Alok Verma. Photograph:( Twitter )
Former CBI director Verma and Asthana have both accused each other of corruption. The government stepped into the spat on Wednesday, sending both of them on leave
The government on Wednesday alleged that CBI Director Alok Verma did not back up the allegations of corruption against his former second-in-command Rakesh Asthana.
The allegations of corruption were levelled before Asthana was made Special Director of the CBI. Verma had at the time written to the Central Vigilance Commission, saying the bureau was investigating Asthana.
Asthana later wrote to the Cabinet Secretary and the CVC alleging that Verma was guilty of corruption.
A little later the CBI filed an FIR against Asthana.
The government stepped in on Wednesday, sending both Verma and Asthana on leave. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said it was necessary to do so to maintain the credibility of the country's premier investigative agency.
In its statement on Wednesday, the government said the CVC, on receipt of a complaint on August 24, 2018 containing various allegations against senior functionaries of the CBI, had served three notices under Section 11 of the CVC Act, 2003 on September 11 on the CBI director to produce files and documents before the commission on September 14.
Various opportunities were given to produce such records and after several adjournments, the CBI assured the commission on September 24 of furnishing them within three weeks.
"Despite repeated assurances and reminders, the Director, CBI, failed to furnish the records/files before the commission. The CVC has observed that Director, CBI, has not been cooperating in making available records/files sought by the commission relating to serious allegations," the statement read.
The CVC has also observed that the CBI director has been non-cooperative, non-compliant with the requirements/directions and has created willful obstructions in the functioning of the commission which is a constitutional body.
Asthana is thought of as being close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah.
Asthana handled the Godhra train-burning case which led to the Gujarat riots of 2002, and the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case in which Shah was at one time accused.
(With inputs from PTI)