NEW DELHI: The Congress slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for removing CBI chief Alok Verma merely on the basis of a CVC report, but at the same time defended party leader Mallikarjun Kharge’s opposition to his appointment in 2017.
The selection committee comprising PM Modi, then Chief Justice of India J S Khehar and Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Kharge had met on January 16, 2017 to finalise the new CBI director.
While PM and the CJI favoured then Delhi Police commissioner Alok Verma, Kharge had dissented and wanted Karnataka cadre IPS officer R K Dutta to be considered for the post. Verma was appointed CBI director on January 19, 2017.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said there was no link between what Kharge said in 2017 and on January 10 this year when he opposed Verma’s removal.
“There is no logic that if Kharge opposed Verma’s candidature earlier, he can’t oppose the illegal removal now. Assuming Kharge opposed Verma’s appointment a few years ago, by what leap of imagination is he disentitled to oppose his removal now? There is no link,” said Singhvi.
The Congress spokesperson alleged that the PM-led selection panel wrongly removed Verma on the basis of a CVC report and without hearing out the officer as the government wanted to avoid a probe in the Rafale deal.
The Congress also denied that it was dragging the name of Justice A K Sikri, who favoured Verma’s removal, but said any decision of the committee could be challenged as the judge merely attended the meeting in his capacity as a member of the panel.
In his letter to the PM, Kharge had expressed his reservations against Verma’s appointment over lack of relevant experience. He had cited the Supreme Court order in the ‘Vineet Narayan and Others versus Union of India’ case and ‘Union of India versus C Dinakar’ case to make his point.
“It is incumbent on this committee that the candidate who outranks other candidates on the parameters of experience in the field of anti-corruption and integrity must be accorded highest preference,” he said.
“As per service record provided to the committee, selection of A K Verma.. who has ‘NIL’ experience in the CBI and in the field of anti-corruption, is a major departure and dilution to the above mentioned criteria which was followed by the successive governments for the post of director, CBI,” Kharge said. Dutta he had said “was the most suitable candidate... having a total of 208 months of experience in CBI and 43 months of experience as ADGP in Karnataka Lokayukta under Justice Santosh Hegde”.