NEW DELHI: Two days after he was reinstated by the Supreme Court, CBI director Alok Verma was on Thursday removed unceremoniously by a high-powered committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Verma is the first chief in the CBI’s 55-year history to face such a harsh action. His two-year tenure as CBI director was to end on January 31.
The three-member panel, which included opposition leader Mallikarjun Kharge and the CJI’s representative Justice A K Sikri, transferred Verma as Director General — Fire Service, Civil Defence and Home Guards under the home ministry upon finding that Verma was not functioning with the kind of integrity expected of him.
In a swift move, Odisha-cadre IPS officer M Nageshwar Rao replaced Verma as the interim head of the CBI. Rao had replaced Verma earlier as well when Verma was divested of his powers and sent on forced leave in October 2018.
The move left Verma, who had joined back after being on forced leave for 77 days, with only a day’s relief.
Kharge dissented with the decision by the PM and Justice Sikri to transfer Vema out. The majority decision was on the basis of the CVC report which had indicted Verma.
In his dissent note, Kharge demanded that Verma be restored with full tenure and powers and that he be given a chance to be heard by the panel. The Congress leader also wanted an independent probe conducted into the midnight drama that preceded his ouster on October 24, 2018.
The trigger for Thursday’s decision could be the alacrity with which Verma was functioning upon his return. On Wednesday, hours after taking charge, Verma had reversed the transfer orders issued by interim CBI chief Rao.
Sources said Verma’s orders are likely to be reversed when Rao joins office.
The government also initiated the process of appointing the next full term chief for the country’s premier investigation agency and the name would be announced soon, sources added.
Congress leader Anand Sharma questioned the CVC wondering whether the anti-corruption institution was truly independent as it seemed to be taking instructions from the PMO.
“The high powered panel failed to do justice… The SC would have acted if it thought the CVC report was significant,” said Sharma.
He also questioned the PM’s hurry in the matter. “What is it that he does not want the CBI to look into? The manner of removal, midnight raid.. all should be probed,” he added.