The Central Vigilance Commission, the apex body to address government corruption, came with some shocking revelations in a CBI case. The CVC probe into the allegations against the ousted CBI director, Alok Verma, found that there was ‘prejudice’ against special director Rakesh Asthana. A ‘secret note’ to hold Asthana’s promotion dated October 2017 was found. The secret note Verma submitted to the vigilance body had 23 entries in it while the CBI special unit provided only 22 entries. The entries were related to payments made by a company named Sterling Biotech to Asthana and a special unit was given the charge of the matter.
Verma accused the CVC of bias against him. However, these claims were ‘rebutted’ by those who were familiar with the details of the probe. The main point of contention though is a controversial extra entry which is the one with the largest amount worth 3.38 crore rupees and made a total payment from Sterling Biotech to Asthana of 3.94 crore rupees. But the CVC, in its probe, found that the particular transaction worth 3.38 crore did not name Asthana and were between Thermax and Sterling Biotech. “Prima facie notings by the IO show that M/s Thermax confirmed the commercial transaction with Sterling Group of Companies (and) did not name Shri Asthana as having any interest in these transactions,” said CVC in its report.
The prejudiced behavior of Alok Verma against Rakesh Asthana is typical to how people with higher government authorities function. They are ready to maintain a stranglehold over their positions of authority. The queries of the CVC against Verma were sent to him on November 7, soon after the apex court ordered the probe, but “chose not to reply to these queries” is what the CVC said. Verma replied to the agency on November 8 but did not reveal how the secret note got prepared by the special unit which was to decide Asthana’s promotion to special director on October 21, 2017 when the investigation officer recorded that he received material after two days on October 23, 2017.
The CVC report monitored by Justice AK Patnaik, observed that Asthan’s promotion was the “genesis of the recent developments in CBI.” Troubles for Alok Verma are increasing every day, recently a notice was issued by the Delhi High Court to the Centre as well as the CBI on a writ petition alleging the ousted CBI chief of illegal phone tapping of National Security Advisor (NSA), Ajit Doval, as well as Law Secretary Suresh Chandra. The petition also claimed that the phones of several other senior CBI officers were also tapped when the investigating agency was witnessing a tussle between Alok Verma and Asthana.
A PM led committee removed Alok Verma as the CBI chief. It must be noted that the committee comprised of a Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, Justice Sikri and the PM himself. Citing the CVC report, the committee noted, “CVC found evidence of influencing the investigation in the Moin Qureshi case. There was also evidence of taking of bribe of Rs. 2 crore. The CVC was of the view that his conduct in the case is suspicious, and there is a prima facie case against him either way. The CVC also felt that the entire truth will come out if a criminal investigation is ordered. The Committee stated that “in the IRCTC case, the CVC felt that it can be reasonably concluded that Shri Verma deliberately excluded a name from the FIR, for reasons best known to him.”