Notice to CBI ex-chief Alok Verma to explain his conduct

Alok Verma, former Director of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), has been sent a so-called show-cause notice to explain why he did not take over as Director General of Fire Services as he was ordered to on January 10, people familiar with the matter said.

The move was in the air in early February itself, when reports, including one in this newspaper, said the government was contemplating such a move; HT now learns that a notice has been sent.

Verma did not respond to calls and messages seeking comment.

Verma was removed as the head of CBI on January 10, 2019, by a high-level selection committee comprising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, and Justice AK Sikri, the nominee of the Chief Justice of India in a 2-1 decision (Kharge dissented). He was asked to take over as DG Fire Services, which he refused. Instead, he put in his papers. The government, however, refused to accept his resignation. He retired on January 31.

Verma already faces departmental proceedings on three other charges. These include his alleged role in helping an accused in the IRCTC corruption case. Verma is alleged to have excluded his name deliberately. The Central Vigilance Commission, which investigated the allegation, said the charges were “substantiated.”

Verma also has to explain why he tried to recruit tainted officers into the agency, another charge investigated by CVC. Finally, Verma has also been asked to explain why, as Delhi Police Commissioner, he did not take action against an Assistant Commissioner of Delhi Police who was alleged to have been involved in smuggling gold. CVC, in its report, said the allegations “were partially substantiated” and recommended a separate probe.

These charges were levelled against Verma by his deputy at CBI, Rakesh Asthana, in a letter to the cabinet secretary in August. The cabinet secretary forwarded the letter to CVC. In October, Verma retaliated by having CBI file an FIR against Asthana. Worried by the spat between the two senior most officers in the agency, the government divested both of their responsibilities on October 23. Verma challenged this in the apex court. On January 8, the court conditionally reinstated him and asked the high-powered selection committee to meet and discuss the CVC report and take a call on Verma because only it could transfer or remove him.

On Jan 17, Asthana was transferred out of CBI to head the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security.