The behind-the-scenes war is between CBI’s boss Alok Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana.
New Delhi: A war seems to have broken out at an unusual place – at India’s top investigating agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The behind-the-scenes war is between CBI’s boss Alok Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana.
A worried CBI has now written to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) saying that Special Director Rakesh Asthana does not have the mandate to represent Alok Verma.
What is more worrying is that the CBI has informed the CVC that several officers being considered for induction in the agency “were under examination by the CBI as suspects/ accused in criminal cases under investigation with the Bureau”.
In fact, Asthana himself is “under (the) scanner” in several cases, according to the agency. To “maintain organizational integrity”, he “cannot be consulted for inducting officers into CBI” in the absence of the Director, the CBI told the CVC, according to The Indian Express.
The issues raised by CBI assume significance at a time when it is probing several politicians in the run-up to the general elections next year.
The trigger point was a meeting of the CBI selection committee that was slated for July 12. CBI director Alok Verma was abroad on an official tour that day, attending an Interpol conference at Punta del Este in Uruguay.
The CBI informed the CVC that “the charge/ powers of Director, CBI have not been given to” Asthana. And hence the selection committee cannot meet. And mysteriously, the meeting did not have any agenda for discussion. The CBI reminded the CVC about its past concern of holding selection committee meetings at such short notice without an agenda.
The CBI said that it “had already expressed its concern on May 18th, 2018 vide letter.. wherein it was requested that CBI be given sufficient time in advance to conduct due diligence checks on the officers/ candidates being proposed for induction”.
The CBI also noted that “in the previous CBI Selection Committee meeting, names of officers who were being considered for induction in CBI were under examination by the CBI as suspects/ accused in criminal cases under investigation with the Bureau”.
Top officers did not respond to the war when contacted by the Express.