Removal of Verma before end of tenure a message for future CBI chiefs to behave: Ragothaman
New Delhi, Jan 11: It would not be wrong to say that in the battle of the two officers, the Central Bureau of Investigation has become the victim.
The drama unfolded until Thursday night before the selection committee decided to shunt out Alok Verma from the post of CBI Director. The decision came barely 48 hours after the Supreme Court had re-instated him while setting aside a midnight decision of the Centre that sent him on leave.
Undoubtedly this is a huge mess and the big question is whether there is a way out. OneIndia spoke with K Ragothaman, former officer with the CBI, who also led the investigation in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case on this issue.
"I don't think the mess would be resolved as yet. Something has been done, but the sad part is that in this entire mess, the organisation has become a victim," he says.
The root cause of the problem:
There have been reports suggesting that the feud in the CBI could have been a result of groups.
However Ragothaman says that this has always been there. Every officer of the Indian Police Service indulges in this. When they come on deputation to the CBI, they bring their own people.
When a director comes, he brings with him people who do not have experience in investigation. This is how the organisation has been diluted since 1977. When I joined the organisation in 1968, I had read the manuals and instructions framed by the officers. These were so good and could not be matched.
However due to constitutional restraints, the CBI has to work under the DSPE Act. Never did any of us think that the centre would acquire the power in due course of time.
According to me, the Centre should only be an administrator as was the original intent.
Now speaking of groups within, these are there everywhere. When I would carry out a probe, I would get no support from the state police. If this is the issue within, how can we expect to go ahead with probes against white collared criminals sitting abroad with the help of the international police.
Interference by a ruling party is nothing new, Ragothaman says. Since the days of the British, our police system follows bureaucratic methods. This basically means that it is not the public that the system is catering to.
In this regard, the intelligence agencies are to be blamed the most. They are the ones who prejudice the minds of the politicians. This is not specific to any party, but all of them be it the Congress, BJP or the Janata Party. Due to this, it is the caucus around the politicians that rule the country.
Earlier the IB director would call on the Prime Minister with a Daily Status Report. This does not happen anymore. Since the days of M K Narayanan, it is the NSA who decides everything. He had his own caucus. He put his men in as a result of which efficient officers were shunted out, Ragothaman says.
It is things such as these that led to the degradation of the CBI. The officers coming into the CBI should have done a stint in the vigilance. Now anyone and everyone come into the CBI. Even those who do not know how to draft an FIR are in the CBI.
Stepped in too late:
The two year tenure introduced for the CBI Director was thought to be a good idea following the Vineet Narain judgment of the Supreme Court. It was felt that this would ensure that there would be professionals manning the top position, Ragothaman says.
However there is an interesting fact that I want to share with you. Prior to this two year tenure rule, there has never been a case of corruption against a CBI Director.
However, coming back to the main issue, why has everyone lost track of the fact that in this whole mess, the Moin Qureshi case has suffered. No one including the Supreme Court is speaking about this issue, which appears to be the main issue behind this entire mess.
Seven years have gone by and this case has been a contentious one for three CBI directors- A P Singh, Ranjit Sinha and now Verma and Asthana. The CBI had found that Moin Qureshi's daughter Sylvia Moin's company, SM Production was given contracts by then CBI director AP Singh for in-house Diwali celebrations in November 2012. The next director, Sinha, again gave Sylvia Moin the contract to organise CBI's at home function in April 2013.
According to the Income Tax Department, a bill of Rs 33.5 lakh was charged for the event by Sylvia Moin's SM Productions. During the searches in connection with the case, I-T officials found BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) exchanges between Moin Qureshi and AP Singh.
Even the war between Asthana and Verma has a Qureshi angle to it. One of his associates Satish Babu Sana tried to evade the CBI. He had alleged while recording his statement that he had paid Rs 2 crore to Verma. He then recorded another statement alleging that he had paid Rs 3 crore to Asthana.
The government should have stepped in earlier to sort this mess says Ragothaman. The same panel could have been called in and Verma could have been removed or transferred Asthana.
What gave Verma in:
Ragothaman says that Verma acted in haste. He was re-instated by the Supreme Court and the very next day, he began recalling the transfers. Either he should have taken charge and put down his papers or at least remained quiet until the selection panel met.
Had he not gone ahead with these transfers, I am sure that the verdict would have been in his favour 2:1 with the backing of Justice A K Sikri.
To be honest, I am happy that he has been shunted out. Had be remained, he would have continued to create groups within the CBI officially. Let this incident be a reminder to all future chiefs. The decision by the panel to cut short the two year tenure should be a lesson to all future CBI chiefs to behave themselves, Ragothaman says.