NEW DELHI: The infighting between the two top officers of the CBI escalated to unprecedented levels with the agency Friday terming a complaint by its second-in-command Rakesh Asthana against its Director Alok Verma before the CVC as 'intimidation' of the officers probing the former's role in at least six cases.
Terming the complaint against Verma as "malicious and frivolous", the CBI said "it is an attempt by the complainant (Asthana) to intimidate the officers of CBI who are investigating his role in at least half a dozen cases".
Reports of rift between the two were doing rounds for long but it came out in open after Verma gave "his frank and free views" in a Central Vigilance Commission meeting last year to decide Asthana's promotion as Special Director, the sources said.
In the latest episode, Asthana approached the government with a note saying Verma is interfering in probes undertaken by him and he is being vilified.
After Asthana's complaint was referred to the Central Vigilance Commission by the government, the transparency watchdog had sought files of various cases from the CBI through its letters dated September 11 and September 14.
In its response, the CBI agreed to show the files but termed the summoning of files as "rather disappointing", the sources said.
No immediate comments were available from Asthana.
In a rare move, the agency Friday came out with a formal statement slamming its Special Director Asthana, a Gujarat-cadre IPS officer, after reports of his complaint became public.
The complaint reportedly alleged that Verma had stopped searches in the IRCTC scam involving former Railway Minister Lalu Yadav at the last moment.
"The allegation of preventing raids against the accused in the IRCTC case is absolutely false. The investigation of the case has resulted in filing a charge sheet before the designated court. This could not have been possible without the explicit approval of the director CBI," it said.
The agency said it is "unfortunate that baseless and frivolous allegations are being made publicly without proper verification of facts to malign the image of the director CBI and intimidate the officials of the organisation".
In response to the CVC, the agency has alleged that the bureau has collected evidence of "criminal misconduct" of Asthana, a 1984-batch officer, in at least six cases and he is aware of it, the sources said.
The response given by the Chief Vigilance Officer of the CBI, the agency has alleged that Asthana is in contact with people from undesirable contacts men list and details of this "misconduct" were mentioned in his Annual Confidential Report of July, 2018, they said.
In the interest of the institution, the CBI urges the CVC not to entertain complaints from "tainted officers" and set "the wrong precedent" and lead to the breakdown of organisational discipline, they claimed.
The agency also told the CVC that two "frivolous and motivated" public interest litigations were also moved in the Supreme Court this year carrying similar allegations which were dismissed, they said.
The CBI said that the CVC should opine on the maintainability of the complaint and consider it malicious and frivolous in order to protect the integrity of the organisation, the statement from the agency said.
"The CBI has pointed out in its letter to CVC that the issue relating to the IRCTC case was raked up earlier also and brought before the Supreme Court on two occasions. The matter was dismissed by the Supreme Court," it said.
The petitioners were also in possession of information from highly confidential internal documents, which is a serious offence, the statement said.
"Irrespective of the maintainability of the complaint, CBI has provided most of the files as requested by the CVC and the remaining will be submitted soon. There is no substance in the media reports that CBI is not cooperating in the enquiry," it said.