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CBI vs CBI Live: Challenging Exile, Alok Verma Tells SC Not All Govt Influence is Explicit

News18.com | October 24, 2018, 8:40 PM IST
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CBI Versus CBI Live Updates: CBI Versus CBI Live Updates: Alok Verma, the CBI chief who has been exiled into leave, has told the Supreme Court in his petition that the government’s decision to divest him of his role was “patently illegal” as the law mandates a 2-year tenure of CBI director to ensure the agency’s independence. “Decision of transfer of CBI director rests with a high powered committee comprising the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition and the Chief Justice of India. Centre’s decision goes against SC directions for an independent CBI,” the petition reads. Claiming that the autonomy of the country's premier investigating agency is being compromised, Verma said there are bound to be occasions when "certain investigations into high functionaries do not take the direction that may be desirable to the government".

The government has, however, claimed that CBI director Alok Verma was not cooperating with the Central Vigilance Commission and defended its decision to divest him of all charges, saying that an "extra-ordinary and unprecedented" situation had arisen due to "grave allegations of corruption" against senior functionaries of the agency. The controversy spilled over to the political realm with the Congress and other opposition parties alleging a Rafale link to the move. At a poll rally in Rajasthan, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi said the Narendra Modi government “removed” Verma as CBI director overnight to stall probe into the Rafale fighter jet deal with France. In its first response to the ongoing turmoil in CBI, the government has said that divesting Verma and CBI special director Rakesh Asthana of their charges was essential to maintain the agency’s “integrity”.
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Oct 24, 2018 8:40 pm (IST)

DMK chief MK Stalin says ‘institutional freedom’ threat under Modi government.Director Alok Verma being sent on leave at a crucial time appears motivated with #RafaleScam under the scanner. The appointment of a corrupt officer as interim head of #CBI is equally questionable. Institutional freedom is facing serious threat under PM Modi's Govt.#CBIVsCBI,”Stalin said in a tweet. 

Oct 24, 2018 6:46 pm (IST)

Probe Against Rakesh Asthana to be Impartial, Fair: CBI | The CBI on Wednesday said an SIT set up to probe allegations against Rakesh Asthana, who was divested of his responsibilities as its Special Director, will carry out an impartial and fair inquiry expeditiously. The agency also said officers with proven credentials have been included in the Special Investigation Team to probe the bribery case against Asthana. "We are making efforts to have expeditious, impartial and fair inquiry in bribery case against Asthana," a CBI spokesperson said. The spokesperson, however, refused to comment on statements by the government and the Central Vigilance Commission that  Alok Verma, who was also removed from the post of the CBI Director, was not cooperating with the CVC.Verma and Asthana have been "divested of all powers" amid an ongoing spat between them, a first such case in the history of the country's premier investigation agency.

Oct 24, 2018 6:23 pm (IST)

‘You Can Run, But You Can't Hide’: Rahul Gandhi to PM Modi | “PM removed the CBI Director to stop him from investigating Rafale. Mr 56 broke the law when he bypassed CJI & LOP. Mr Modi, Rafale is a deadly aircraft with a superb radar. You can run, but you can't hide from It,”Gandhi said in a tweet.  

Oct 24, 2018 5:20 pm (IST)
Oct 24, 2018 5:13 pm (IST)

CBI refuses to comment on statements by government and Central Vigilance Commission on Director Alok Verma's 'non-cooperation'. A spokesperson for the agency told PTI that efforts were being taken to have expeditious, impartial and fair inquiry in bribery case against CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana. The spokesperson also said that officers with proven credentials included in team probing bribery case against Asthana.

Oct 24, 2018 4:53 pm (IST)

Verma further alleged in his petition that Rakesh Asthana, whose appointment as special director was despite his reservation, stymied decisions crucial to the progress of investigation in sensitive cases, some of them being monitored by Supreme Court. He said that in the recent past, when senior officers of the agency agreed on a certain course of action in cases, Asthana took a different view and posed hurdles.

Oct 24, 2018 4:50 pm (IST)

'Centre’s Decision Goes Against SC Directions for an Independent CBI' : CBI chief in SC Petition | Alok Verma, the CBI chief who has been exiled into leave, has told the Supreme Court in his petition that the government’s decision to divest him of his role was “patently illegal” as the law mandates a 2-year tenure of CBI director to ensure the agency’s independence. "Decision of transfer of CBI director rests with a high powered committee comprising the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition and the Chief Justice of India. Centre’s decision goes against SC directions for an independent CBI,” the petition reads. Verma alleged in his petition that not all influence exerted by the government is explicit or in writing. “More often than not, it is tacit, and requires considerable courage to withstand it,” he says. Claiming that the autonomy of the country's premier investigating agency is being compromised, he said there are bound to be occasions when "certain investigations into high functionaries do not take the direction that may be desirable to the government".

Oct 24, 2018 4:33 pm (IST)

ALSO READ | News18 Explains The Ugly Spat Between Two Top CBI Officers

With the two top officers of the CBI involved in an ugly spat, the government in a midnight move divested the two of their powers and appointed M Nageshwar Rao as iterim director of the investigating agency.

Oct 24, 2018 4:27 pm (IST)

Delhi Chief Minister Raises Questions Over Dismissal of CBI Chief Alok Verma | “Is there a co-relation betn Rafale deal and removal of Alok Verma? Was Alok Verma about to start investigations into Rafale, which cud become problem for Modi ji?” Kejriwal said in a tweet.

Oct 24, 2018 4:15 pm (IST)

‘Why is PM Protecting a Corrupt Officer?’: Asaduddin Owaisi | “I've faith that SC would give relief to CBI director as it's violation of Section 4 of Delhi Special Police Establishment Act. I want to know which section CVC used to remove him. Why is PM protecting a corrupt officer? All democratic institutions are being undermined,” Owaisi said.

Oct 24, 2018 4:04 pm (IST)

ALSO READ | Centre's CBI Move Shows It's Not Serious About Mallya, Rafale Cases: Mayawati

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Mayawati alleged that the Centre's intrusion in the internal matters of CBI has been going on for some time and is extremely worrying as "such incidents bring down the credibility of the country's premier investigation agency."

Oct 24, 2018 4:01 pm (IST)

Meanwhile, BSP chief Mayawati also ramped up her attack on the centre and said that the misuse of government machinery and interference in the agency's working is a cause of great concern. “Misuse of government machinery and interference in CBI's functioning have earlier also caused disasters and the ongoing disturbance at CBI is a matter of great concern for the nation. It's good that the matter that also had interference of central government is before the Supreme Court now," Mayawati was quoted as saying by ANI. 

Oct 24, 2018 3:55 pm (IST)

Jaitley Dismisses Gandhi's Allegations As 'Rubbish' |  At a press conference in Delhi, Arun Jaitley, however, dismissed as "rubbish" allegations that Verma was removed because he wanted to look into the Rafale fighter jet deal. He said the government's decision to remove Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana is based on the Central Vigilance Commission's recommendations.

Oct 24, 2018 3:52 pm (IST)

CBI Director Removed Because Agency Questioned Rafale Deal, Says Rahul Gandhi | Targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the CBI row, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday alleged that its Director Alok Verma was removed because the agency was raising questions over the Rafale fighter jet deal. Addressing a public rally in Rajasthan's Jhalawar district, the home turf of Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, Gandhi also alleged that Mehul Choksi deposited money in the bank account of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's daughter, PTI reported. The CBI director was removed last night because the agency was raising questions over Rafale, Gandhi alleged, adding that Verma had asked for documents of the fighter jet deal.

Oct 24, 2018 3:29 pm (IST)

 "Despite repeated assurances and reminders, the Director, CBI, failed to furnish the records/files before the commission. The CVC has observed that Director, CBI, has not been cooperating in making available records/files sought by the commission relating to serious allegations," the statement read.The CVC has also observed that the CBI director has been non-cooperative, non-compliant with the requirements/directions and has created willful obstructions in the functioning of the commission which is a constitutional body

Oct 24, 2018 3:28 pm (IST)

In a long statement, the government said the CVC, on receipt of a complaint on August 24, 2018 containing various allegations against the senior functionaries of the CBI, has served three notices under Section 11 of the CVC Act, 2003 on September 11 on the CBI director to produce files and documents before the commission on September 14. Various opportunities were given to produce such records and after several adjournments, the CBI assured the commission on September 24 of furnishing them within three weeks.

Oct 24, 2018 3:28 pm (IST)

The environment of faction feud in the CBI has reached its peak, leading to a potential loss of its credibility and reputation of the premier investigating agency besides vitiating the work environment of the organization which has deep and visible impact on the overall governance.

Oct 24, 2018 3:28 pm (IST)

The government Wednesday claimed that ousted CBI Director Alok Verma was not cooperating with the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and defended its decision to send him on leave, saying that an "extra-ordinary and unprecedented" situation had arisen due to "grave allegations of corruption" against senior functionaries of the agency.

Oct 24, 2018 3:13 pm (IST)

In view of the above background, he PIB said, the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved that during the period of such interim measure, Shri M. Nageshwar Rao, IPS, presently working as Joint Director, CBI shall look after the duties and functions of Director, CBI with immediate effect.

Oct 24, 2018 3:13 pm (IST)

In view of the above background, he PIB said, the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved that during the period of such interim measure, Shri M. Nageshwar Rao, IPS, presently working as Joint Director, CBI shall look after the duties and functions of Director, CBI with immediate effect.

Oct 24, 2018 3:12 pm (IST)

This has been done as an interim measure and will subsist "till the CVC concludes its inquiry into all issues which have given rise to the present extra-ordinary and unprecedented situation and till the CVC and/or Government of India takes an appropriate decision in accordance with the law as regards to the measures to be adopted as a consequence thereof", the PIB added. 

Oct 24, 2018 3:12 pm (IST)

The Government of India having carefully examined and evaluated the material made available to it, and being satisfied that an extra-ordinary and unprecedented situation has arisen which demands that Government of India shall exercise its powers under Section 4(2) of the DPSE Act, the PIB said. The Government of India has evaluated the material before it and in the interest of equality, fair play and principles of natural justice,decided to divest Shri Alok Kumar Verma, Director, CBI and Shri Rakesh Asthana, Spl Director, CBI of their functions, power, duty and supervisory role in any manner as Director, CBI and Spl. Director, CBI respectively.

Oct 24, 2018 3:11 pm (IST)

The PIB in statement said that considering the extra-ordinary and unprecedented circumstances which has emerged, the Central Vigilance Commission in exercise of its powers (section 8 of CVC Act, 2003) of superintendence over the functioning of DPSE (CBI), in so far as it relates to the investigation of offences alleged to have been committed under Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. has passed orders divesting Shri Alok Kumar Verma, Director, CBI and Shri Rakesh Asthana, Spl. Director, CBI of thefunctions, power, duty and supervisory role in respect of cases already registered and/or required to be registered and/or being inquired/enquired/investigated under the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, until further orders.

Oct 24, 2018 3:10 pm (IST)

The CVC has also observed that the Director, CBI has been non-cooperative with the Commission, non-compliant with the requirements / directions of the Commission and has created willful obstructions in the functioning of the Commission which is a Constitutional body, the PIB said. 

Oct 24, 2018 3:09 pm (IST)

The PIB also said that the CVC, on receipt of a complaint on 24th August, 2018 containing various allegations against the senior functionaries of the CBI has served three separate notices (under section 11 of CVC Act, 2003) on 11th September, 2018 upon the Director, CBI to produce files and documents before the Commission on 14"' September, 2018. Various opportunities have been given to produce such records and after several adjournments, though CBI assured the Commission on 24th September, 2018 to furnish the records within three weeks. Despite repeated assurances and reminders, the Director, CBI failed to furnish the records / files before the Commission. The CVC has observed that Director, CBI has not been cooperating in making available records / files sought by the Commission relating to serious allegations.

Oct 24, 2018 3:09 pm (IST)

The grave allegations of corruption by senior functionaries of CBI one against another, which has been widely reported in media, has vitiated the official eco-system of the organization. The environment of faction feud has reached its peak in the CBI leading to a potential loss of credibility and reputation of the Premier Investigating Agency of the Government It also vitiated the working environment of the organization which has deep and visible impact on the overall governance, the PIB said in a statement. It also added that the grave allegations of corruption by senior functionaries of CBI one against another, which has been widely reported in media, has vitiated the official eco-system of the organization. The environment of faction feud has reached its peak in the CBI leading to a potential loss of credibility and reputation of the Premier Investigating Agency of the Government It also vitiated the working environment of the organization which has deep and visible impact on the overall governance. 

Oct 24, 2018 2:54 pm (IST)

A petition has been filed in Bombay High Court seeking setting up of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) for an investigation into Alok Verma - Rakesh Asthana issue. The petition also demands a retired Supreme Court judge in the SIT, reports ANI

Oct 24, 2018 2:37 pm (IST)

All sensitive cases including Vijay Mallya and Agusta Westland cases will be personally supervised by new interim Central Bureau of Investigation chief Nageshwar Rao, ANI reported. 

Oct 24, 2018 2:36 pm (IST)
News18 Explains The Ugly Spat Between Two Top CBI Officers

With the two top officers of the CBI involved in an ugly spat, the government in a midnight move divested the two of their powers and appointed M Nageshwar Rao as iterim director of the investigating agency.

Oct 24, 2018 1:37 pm (IST)

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi is speaking at a rally in Rajasthan's Jhalavar. He said that the CBI director was seeking papers on Rafale scam and was removed from the post last night. 

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CBI vs CBI Live: Challenging Exile, Alok Verma Tells SC Not All Govt Influence is Explicit
File photo of CBI director Alok Verma.

The CBI has, meanwhile, overhauled the team probing allegations of corruption against its special director Rakesh Asthana, bringing in completely new faces. M Nageswar Rao, a 1986-batch Odisha cadre IPS officer, who took over the duties and functions of CBI director late on Tuesday, appointed Satish Dagar as Superintendent of Police to probe the case. Dagar has in the past probed cases against Dera Sachcha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim. His first supervisor will be DIG Tarun Gauba, who had probed Vyapam cases. At joint director-level, V Murugesan has been brought in. The Supreme Court had reposed faith in Murugesan in the coal scam probe. The previous investigating officer, Deputy SP A K Bassi, has been shunted to Port Blair in "public interest" with "immediate effect".

Asthana had alleged in his complaint to the Central Vigilance Commission that Bassi was carrying out "roving inquiries" against him on the directions of Alok Verma, the CBI director who has been divested of all powers by the government along with him. The Supreme Court, meanwhile, has decided to hear CBI director Alok Verma’s petition on the ongoing internal war on Friday.

The government order on Rao’s appointment implies that the government has side-lined all the three additional directors, number three in the agency hierarchy, including A K Sharma whose name had figured in the complaint by Asthana.

Lashing out at the BJP-led government at the Centre, AAP chief and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal alleged that it was trying to “hide” something. What are the reasons for sending CBI director on leave? Under which law did the Modi govt get the authority to initiate action against the chief of an investigating agency appointed as per the Lokpal Act ? What is Modi govt trying to hide ? (sic),” he tweeted. CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury termed the move as “illegal” and alleged a “cover-up”. “The illegal removal of CBI Chief by Modi government to protect their own handpicked officer, against whom serious charges of corruption are being investigated, points to attempts at a serious cover-up to protect his direct links to the BJP's top political leadership,” he said. In a series of tweets, Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the PM can’t “interfere” in the middle of a “criminal investigation”.

The case emanates from a statement recorded by a Hyderabad-based real estate agent Sathish Sana whose role was being investigated by a team led by Asthana in a bribery case allegedly involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi. It was alleged that Sana had paid Rs 50 lakh as bribe to Qureshi, which was shown as investment in his company, to get relief in a bribery case.

A Special Investigation Team led by Rakesh Asthana was probing the matter and was repeatedly questioning Sana in this regard as it suspected him of lying in the matter. A lookout notice was also issued against him by the investigation which prevented him from leaving the country on September 25, 2018, Sana had said in his statement which is part of the FIR.

The team also submitted a proposal to arrest him as it felt the need for custodial interrogation on October 20, 2018 before the director which was not cleared and sent for the opinion of Directorate of Prosecution.

"The arrest is ordered only when certain parameters are fulfilled. The sanctioning authority satisfies itself whether arrest is warranted or not. The due procedure was followed," CBI spokesperson said on the question of Asthana's claims.

Asthana in his complaint to the Cabinet Secretary on August 24 had alleged that CBI Director Alok Verma had received a bribe of Rs 2 crore from Sana to help him get relief from repeated questioning.

He had also alleged that Verma had called him over phone in February to not call Sana for questioning.

In a surprising and unprecedented move on October 15, the CBI booked Asthana and investigation officer of the case on the charges of receiving bribe from Sana through middlemen Manoj Prasad and Somesh Prasad.

The CBI has arrested Devender Kumar, the Deputy SP and investigation officer, alleging that he had fabricated the statement of Sana purportedly claiming that a Rajya Sabha MP had met Verma on his pending case and assured him of relief and a clean chit.
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