How the ugly spat between the CBI’s top 2 is hurting India’s premier agency
New Delhi, Sep 24: The spat between CBI director Alok Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana refuses to die down.
Varma has gone on to accuse Asthana of intimidating officers, who were probing corruption cases against him, Ironically the statement was issued through the official spokesperson. He went on to term the statement by Asthana as malicious and frivalous.
He also rejected the allegation that he had tried to thwart investigations into important cases, including the one concerning the IRCTC scam in which Lalu Prasad Yadav is an accused.
The rebuttal came following a letter that Asthana had written to the Central Vigilance Commission, which was reported widely in the media. The spokesperson for the CBI said, "it is unfortunate that baseless allegations are being made publicly without proper verification of facts to malign the image of the director, CBI and intimidate officials of the organisation."
These war of words are a continuation of the spat between the two officers which has been on for sometime now. Verma, it may be recalled had resisted Asthana's elevation as special director on the ground of alleged corruption. Asthana was however given a clean chit by the CVC and the same was also approved by the Supreme Court.
The matter however did not end there and Verma objected to the CVC's decision of recognising the special director as the officiating head of the agency in his absence.
The CBI spokesperson said, it is stated that the CVC has sought for certain case files from CBI on the basis of a complaint filed by the special director, CBI. In its response to the CVC letter, the chief vigilance officer of CBI has pointed out that the complaint is an attempt by the complainant (Asthana) to intimidate the officers of CBI who are investigating his role in at least half a dozen cases. The CBI said the CVC should opine on the maintainability of the complaint and consider it malicious in order to protect the integrity of the organisation."
"Irrespective of the maintainability of the complaint, the CBI has provided most of the files as requested by the CVC and the remaining will be submitted soon", the spokesperson added.
"Allegations of preventing raids against the accused in the IRCTC case is absolutely false". The CBI has pointed out in its letter to the CVC that the issue relating to the IRCTC case was raked up earlier also and brought before the Hon'ble Supreme Court on two occasions. The matter was dismissed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court. The petitioners were also in possession of information from highly confidential internal documents, which is a serious offence," the spokesperson also added.
"The probe of the case has resulted in filing a chargesheet before the designated court. This could not have been possible without the explicit approval of the director, CBI," the statement also read.
This fresh spat between the top two of the country's premier agency has been a downer for many within the agency. Some officials that OneIndia spoke with say that this is not good for the agency. The morale is clearly down and in such spats, officers often end up taking sides.
In the long run this sort of an environment would only hamper investigations. There would be two sides within the agency and the power tussle would severely hamper the agency's functioning the official also said.
When asked if the government could step in and sort out the problem, an officer said it could, but the role would be limited. The Home Ministry at best could advise the officers to set aside differences and more importantly stop going public. The SC has clearly marked the jurisdiction of the CBI and has often spoken about its autonomy.