New Delhi: The CBI has rubbished media reports that several crucial files, including one on Rafale fighter jet deal, were with its Director Alok Verma when he was sent on leave by the Centre. According to PTI, the agency has, in a statement, termed the report as false. (Also read: SC to Hear Verma’s Plea Today; Cong to Hold Protests at CBI Headquarters)
CBI spokesperson Abhishek Dayal said, “This is being manufactured by vested interests. Every file in the CBI at each level is accounted for.” Probably for the first time in its history, the CBI saw both Verma and his deputy, Special Director Rakesh Asthana, divested of their powers and sent on leave in a dramatic overnight action by the government on Tuesday night.
Activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan and former Union minister Arun Shourie had submitted a detailed complaint to Verma on October 4 regarding alleged corruption in the deal signed with France’s Dassault Aviation to buy 36 Rafale aircraft. Alleging that the offset contract for Rafale aircraft was actually a commission to a private company, they had asked Verma to take the Government’s permission to initiate a probe in accordance with the law.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court will be hearing a PIL seeking court-monitored SIT probe into allegations of corruption against various CBI officials, including Asthana. A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi considered Bhushan’s submission that there were wider issues of corruption affecting the probe agency and the PIL needed to be heard urgently. The bench, which also has Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph, asked Bhushan to provide details and said it would consider granting an urgent hearing on the petition. Today, the apex court would also hear a separate plea filed by the CBI chief challenging the Centre’s decision to divest him of powers and send him on leave.
The Congress has been gunning for the Government, alleging that Verma’s removal was “illegal” and a “panic reaction” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stall investigation on “corruption” in the Rafale fighter jet deal. Addressing a press conference, he said Verma’s removal was an “insult” to not only the Constitution but also to the Chief Justice of India and the leader of the Opposition, who along with the Prime Minister, was a part of a panel that had the powers to appoint or remove him.