The CBI, once feared as the nation’s key investigative agency, will never be the same again. It has virtually been destroyed as an institution due to the internecine warfare between just-sacked director Alok Verma and still-suspended special director Rakesh Asthana. Emerging details of intriguing events show many people and the institutions they represent in very poor light. While the major step was Mr Verma’s removal by the Prime Minister-led panel acting on the basis of the CVC’s report levelling corruption allegations, and the officer choosing to resign rather than head the Fire Services, a lot more happened behind the scenes that didn’t quite meet the ethical standards expected from an institution of national importance. It appears the CVC wasn’t quite forthcoming on his dealings over the issue, including his visit to Mr Verma’s residence to intercede on Mr Asthana’s behalf regarding adverse comments in the officer’s confidential report.
The suspicion is that the Supreme Court may not have shared the Justice Patnaik report with the PM-led committee. Apparently, the retired judge had found the corruption allegations against Mr Verma weren’t substantiated, and were just charges levelled by the CVC. The officer’s contention that natural justice had been denied, and was, in fact, scuttled by information being withheld sounds fair. Officers may come and go but the institution must remain credible if people are to have faith in unbiased investigations into scams. What the entire episode of a director being saddled with a parallel special director is to complicate the CBI’s functioning and whittling down its credibility. No wonder at least three states have already decided not to allow the CBI to probe cases in their territory.