SC-appointed Monitor Justice Patnaik: No Evidence of Corruption Against Verma, Decision Of Modi-led Panel Very Hasty
He said that the PM Modi-led panel's decision to remove was "very very hasty" and that the entire enquiry was held on the basis of Rakesh Asthana's complaint.
Retired Justice AK Patnaik, whom the Supreme Court had appointed as the monitor of the CVC probe against Alok Verma, has reportedly said that there was no evidence of corruption against Alok Verma. Verma was shunted out of the CBI by the high-power panel led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday, January 10, two days after the Supreme Court had reinstated him as the CBI Director.
The panel comprising of PM Modi, Justice AK Sikri and Leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge removed Verma as the CBI Director in a 2:1 vote, with Kharge dissenting against the majority. The panel had cited the CVC report and “the extremely serious nature of observations made by the CVC against Verma”.
However, senior journalist Seema Chishti of the Indian Express spoke to Justice Patnaik who termed the panel’s decision against Verma “very very hasty”, saying, “There was no evidence against Verma regarding corruption. The entire enquiry was held on (CBI Special Director Rakesh) Asthana’s complaint. I have said in my report that none of the findings in the CVC’s report are mine.”
It is important to note that Rakesh Asthana, accused of bribery and corruption, filed the complaints against Verma after the latter had filed a bribery FIR against him. The Delhi High Court on Friday, January 11 rejected Asthana’s plea of quashing the bribery FIR and ordered the CBI to file a chargesheet in 10 days.
Justice Patnaik said, “Even if the Supreme Court said that the high-power committee must decide, the decision was very, very hasty. We are dealing with an institution here. They should have applied their mind thoroughly, especially as a Supreme Court judge was there. What the CVC says cannot be the final word,” reported IE.
“The Supreme Court entrusted me with a responsibility of supervising, so I ensured my presence, the Sana evidence etc, and I ensured that principles of natural justice were applied. Verma had access to all the documents and got a personal hearing. The enquiry was completed in fourteen days, it was all done. Thereafter, it was for the Supreme Court to decide. The report was 50 pages but there were 1,000 pages of annexures,” he reportedly said.
Justice Patnaik’s statements raise serious questions on the process with which Verma was removed. If Patnaik was appointed as the monitor of the CVC KV Chaudhary’s probe, why were his findings, that clearly state that there was no evidence of corruption against Verma, not taken into consideration by the Modi-led panel? How did bribery-tainted Asthana’s complaint and the CVC’s word become the basis of the decision, considering Verma was not even given a hearing by the panel?
Kharge, who was on the panel, had also said that Verma be given a hearing but this was rejected. Many have said that removing Verma without a hearing is a violation of the principles of natural justice. Verma’s removal has been criticised widely, with some pointing out that it was done to prevent a probe in the Rafale deal scam.