Extraordinary and unprecedented situation in CBI necessitated intervention: Government

NEW DELHI: Wilful obstructions caused by CBI director Alok Verma + in the functioning of the CVC, which was looking into complaints of corruption against him, and a "faction feud" with his deputy Rakesh Asthana that "vitiated" the environment in the agency resulted in the divestment of powers of both the officers by the government, a statement said on Wednesday.The government issued a detailed statement on the unprecedented events in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), where two top officials — Verma and Asthana — were divested of all powers by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Tuesday. 

"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 statement said.

It added that the environment of "faction feud" had reached its peak in the CBI, leading to a potential loss of credibility and reputation of the agency.

It also vitiated the working environment of the organisation, which had a deep and visible impact on the overall governance, the statement said.

The move came on a recommendation of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), which had passed orders divesting Alok Kumar Verma, director and Rakesh Asthana, special director of all powers after considering "the extra-ordinary and unprecedented circumstances", it added.

In making the recommendation to the government, the CVC invoked its powers (under section 8 of the CVC Act, 2003) of superintendence over the functioning of the DPSE (CBI), insofar as it related to the investigation of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

"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 Alok Kumar Verma, Director, CBI and Rakesh Asthana, Special Director, CBI of their functions, power, duty and supervisory role in any manner as Director, CBI and Special Director, CBI respectively," the statement said.

It added that the government had "carefully examined and evaluated" the material made available to it and being satisfied that an "extra-ordinary and unprecedented situation" had arisen, which demanded that the government exercise its powers under section 4(2) of the DPSE Act, which allowed it to curtail the tenure of the CBI director.

"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 the measures to be adopted as a consequence thereof," the statement said.

The then Special Director Asthana had levelled allegations of corruption against Verma in a complaint to the government on August 24, which was referred to the CVC.

The CVC had demanded from the CBI that the files of the said matters listed in Asthana's complaint be sent to it.

"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 statement said.

The CVC had observed that the Director, CBI was not cooperating in making available the records and files sought by it, it added.

"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 wilful obstructions in the functioning of the Commission which is a Constitutional body," the statement issued by the government said.  

PTI