New Delhi: CBI Director Alok Verma on Friday appeared before a panel headed by Central Vigilance Commissioner K V Chowdary and countered for the second consecutive day the corruption charges levelled against him by Special Director Rakesh Asthana, who followed him to the office of the anti-corruption watchdog but could not get an audience, officials said.
Asthana came to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) office at around 4.45 PM and stayed there for around 10 minutes, but could not meet any senior official as there was no scheduled appointment. Verma is understood to have given point-wise refusal to all the allegations levelled by Asthana before the panel comprising Vigilance Commissioners T M Bhasin and Sharad Kumar, they said. Justice A K Patnaik, a retired Supreme Court judge, who has been asked by the apex court to supervise the CVC inquiry was also present, the officials said.
Verma came to the CVC office early Friday morning and stayed there for about an hour, they said. He did not speak to the media waiting outside the CVC office. The Supreme Court had on October 26 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 Chowdary. Asthana, who also met Vigilance Commissioner Sharad Kumar on Thursday, is understood to have given documentary evidence in support of his charges levelled against Verma, the officials said. On Friday, the CBI Special Director again visited the CVC office. “He could not meet Central Vigilance Commissioner Chowdary or any of the Vigilance Commissioners as they, along with other senior officials of the commission, were in a meeting,” one of the officials said, requesting anonymity. 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 wands 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 A K 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 October 15 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 August 24, Asthana, in his complaint to the Cabinet Secretary, had levelled allegations against Verma that he got a bribe of Rs two crore from Sana to help him get some relief from questioning in the matter.