CBI Director Alok Verma Appears Before CVC, Refutes Corruption Charges Levelled By Rakesh Asthana

Alok Verma in a file photo.

NEW DELHI — CBI Director Alok Verma on Friday appeared before a panel headed by Central Vigilance Commissioner KV Chowdary and countered the corruption charges levelled against him by Rakesh Asthana, his deputy and special director in the probe agency, for the second consecutive day, officials said.

Verma is understood to have given point-wise refusal to all the allegations levelled by Asthana before the panel comprising Vigilance Commissioners TM Bhasin and Sharad Kumar, they said.

Justice AK Patnaik, a retired Supreme Court judge, who has been asked by the apex court to supervise the CVC inquiry was also present, officials said.

Verma came to the CVC office early on Friday morning and stayed there for about an hour, they said.

He did not give any comment to the media waiting outside the CVC’s office.

The Supreme Court had on 26 October asked the Central Vigilance Commission to complete within two weeks its inquiry into the allegations against Verma levelled by Asthana.

The two-week time limit ends on Sunday and the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the matter on Monday.

Feuding officers Verma and Asthana have been sent on leave by the government.

Besides Verma, Asthana also had on Thursday met the CVC.

He is understood to have given documentary evidence in support of his charges levelled against Verma, the officials said.

The Commission had recently examined some CBI officials probing crucial cases which figured in Asthana’s complaint of corruption against the probe agency’s chief Verma, they said.

The officials said CBI personnel from the rank of inspector up to superintendent of police were called and their versions recorded before a senior CVC official.

These officials, who had recorded their statements included those who had handled the Moin Qureshi bribery case, IRCTC scam involving former railway minister Lalu Prasad, and the cattle smuggling case in which a senior BSF officer was caught with wads of cash in Kerala.

The Supreme Court had directed that the CVC’s inquiry into the allegations against Verma, who has challenged the government’s decision divesting him of his duties and sending him on leave, would be conducted under the supervision of Justice Patnaik and this was a “one-time exception”.

The feud between Verma and Asthana escalated recently, leading to registration of an FIR against the latter and others including Deputy Superintendent of Police Devender Kumar, who is in CBI custody in an alleged bribery case.

The CBI had on 15 October registered the FIR against Asthana for allegedly receiving a bribe of Rs 2 crore from Hyderabad-based businessman Sana Sathish Babu which was given through two middlemen Manoj Prasad and Somesh Prasad to sabotage the probe against meat exporter Moin Qureshi.

On 24 August, Asthana, in his complaint to the Cabinet Secretary, had levelled allegations against Verma that he got a bribe of Rs 2 crore from Sana to help him get some relief from questioning in the matter.