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Puzzle behind CBI chief’s transfer

Puzzle behind CBI chief’s transfer
Highlights

The joy of Alok Verma on getting reinstated by the Supreme Court was shortlived Within a few hours of his reinstatement, Alok Verma resorted to what he was not asked to transferring 17 officials Should he have kept his cool till the outcome of the Apex Court constituted threemember committee to decide his fate Alok Verma would not do it and proved his critics right by doing in all eagerness

The joy of Alok Verma on getting reinstated by the Supreme Court was short-lived. Within a few hours of his reinstatement, Alok Verma resorted to what he was not asked to - transferring 17 officials. Should he have kept his cool till the outcome of the Apex Court constituted three-member committee to decide his fate? Alok Verma would not do it and proved his critics right by doing in all eagerness what he has done.

Well that is not the triggering point anyway for his second sacking. The three-member committee headed by the Prime Minister consisted Justice A K Sikri and Leader of the Opposition, Mallikharjuna Kharge too. It was a foregone conclusion that the Congress leader would support Alok Verma's reinstatement come what may as he was being used to wage a proxy battle against Narendra Modi-led NDA government. Naturally when the two other members found sufficient grounds to transfer him out of the CBI to the Fire Services based on the CVC report submitted to the court and the Centre earlier, Kharge dissented.

The CVC found Alok Verma guilty on five counts of corruption, but there was always a feeling that Verma did not get a fair trial before being asked to relinquish charge in the first instance. Pronouncing the verdict, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said that the court cannot be oblivious to the directions contained in Vineet Narain & Ors v. Union of India. The intent of bringing the directions of Vineet Narain into the statute book was to ensure complete insulation of the CBI Director, he said. It was also held that the word 'transfer' cannot be given its normal meaning and that it has to be understood as encompassing acts affecting the functioning of the CBI Director.

The major issue for consideration was whether the Centre and the CVC had the powers to divest Verma of his powers as the CBI Director. The CBI being a prime investigating agency dealing in corruption in high public places is an institution whose independence should be preserved and protected. It must function without external influences. Whether Verma upheld the dignity of the office cannot be easily judged. There was an internal fight in the CBI and the top two officers were trading charges. Amid allegations and counters, waded the Congress to fish in the troubled waters. Then it linked the implosion in the organisation to Rafale alleging that Alok Verma was planning to investigate Rafale deal. This is plain politicisation.

The matter was pending in the court. But the Congress did not keep quiet. The highest regard it has for sacred institutions of the country, only has made it to meddle with those. Otherwise, nothing justifies its dissent note. The three-member committee was constituted by the apex court and not by the Prime Minister. If the party had any respect for the institution, it should have left the matters to be decided by the court. It celebrates the reinstatement of Alok Verma and mourns and dissents his transfer. Does it prove Alok Verma clean or the Congress unclean? We shall never know the truth anyway.

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