CBIvsCBI: SC reinstates Alok Verma as CBI Chief

Supreme Court on Tuesday in its verdict reinstated CBI Chief Alok Verma. However, he cannot take major policy decisions.

The government asked  CBI Director Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana to go on leave in October 2018 after the spat between the two top officials of the investigative agency became public. M Nagashwara Rao was appointed as the interim CBI chief.

In the verdict, the SC said directed the High Power Committee under DSPE Act to act within a week to consider his case.

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The apex court also said that the government should have referred to the Select Committee consisting of the Chief Justice of India, Prime Minister and Leader of Opposition to initiate Alok Verma’s removal.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph pronounced the verdict on two petitions, one filed by Verma and the other by NGO Common Cause, challenging the government’s decision. The verdict was pronounced by S K Kaul as the CJI was on leave on Tuesday.

On October 23, CVC issued orders divesting Verma of all duties. Verma then challenged CVC order in Supreme Court.

Here is all you need to know about the case

  • It came into the public domain when the CBI filed an First Information Report (FIR) against its Special Director Rakesh Asthana alleging that he took a bribe.
  • Asthana drew up a list of cases against Director Alok Verma and other top CBI officials. Asthana has apparently listed a dozen charges, double the number that the CBI has him docked for.
  • Verma then wrote to the government for Asthana’s removal as his position in the agency is ‘untenable’.
  • The CBI’s FIR against Rakesh Asthana is based on the claims of Sathish Sana, a Hyderabad-based businessman, who is under investigation for connections with meat exporter Moin Qureshi, an accused in money-laundering cases.
  • Sathish Sana has alleged that he was asked to pay a bribe of Rs 5 crore to Asthana, officer heading the Special Investigation Team (SIT), to be rid of the case. Manoj Prasad, an investment banker based in Dubai, was allegedly the middleman who asked him to pay this bribe. Manoj Prasad was arrested on October 16 when he was returning from Dubai to allegedly collect an installment of the agreed bribe amount.

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  • The CBI claims to have analysed nine phone calls immediately after the arrest, which, it says, shows panic after Manoj Prasad’s brother learnt of his arrest. The calls were allegedly exchanged between Asthana and a senior officer of another intelligence agency, who wanted to confirm details of the arrest.
  • Nowhere in the statement has Sathish Sana mentioned any direct meeting, interaction or payment of a bribe to Asthana. But the CBI says Sathish Sana told a magistrate that he had paid Rs 2 crore as bribe to Asthana over a 10 month period from December last year.
  • In a complaint to the government in August, however, Rakesh Asthana alleged that it was the CBI chief who took that bribe in the case of Moin Qureshi, who is being investigated for allegedly channelling illegal money through Dubai, London, and other places in Europe.
  • Asthana also alleged he was framed for preventing Sathish Sama from skipping the country and pressing him to cooperate with the investigation.
  • The CBI infighting started last year when Director Alok Verma objected to the appointment of Asthana, a Gujarat cadre officer, as he was under investigation in the Sterling Biotech case.

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