Justice AK Patnaik, the retired Supreme Court judge, has reportedly said that there was no evidence of corruption against the ousted CBI Director Alok Verma and what the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) says cannot be the final word. Calling it a “very, very hasty” decision, Justice Patnaik was critical of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led selection committee’s decision to shunt out Verma over corruption charges and dereliction of duty, The Indian Express reported.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Justice Patnaik said that there was no evidence against Verma regarding corruption and the entire inquiry was held on the complaint of CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana. “I have said in my report that none of the findings in the CVC s report are mine,” he told IE.
Even if the Supreme Court said that the high-power committee must decide, the decision was very, very hasty. We are dealing with an institution here. They should have applied their mind thoroughly, especially as a Supreme Court judge was there. What the CVC says cannot be the final word, Justice Patnaik said while reflecting how events unfolded this week.
According to the report, Justice Patnaik stated that the CVC forwarded to him a statement dated November 9, 2018 purportedly signed by Rakesh Asthana. “I may clarify that this statement purportedly signed by Shri Rakesh Asthana was not made in my presence”, he wrote in a two-page report to the Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.
Justice A K Patnaik, who is the former Supreme Court judge, was asked by the Supreme Court to supervise the CVC inquiry that eventually led to the ouster of Verma, two days after he was reinstated by the apex court.
The three-member panel was comprised of PM Modi, Justice A K Sikri, nominee of the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, and Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge. Of the three members, Modi and Justice Sikri were against Verma’s continuance as the CBI director in light of the CVC report and the extremely serious nature of observations made by the CVC against Verma. Kharge, however, filed a dissent note as he contested the CVC report.
Asserting that his role was merely supervisory, he confirmed that Verma s claim in his letter Friday to the Department of Personnel and Training that the findings of the CVC report were not his. The Supreme Court entrusted me with a responsibility of supervising, so I ensured my presence, the Sana evidence, etc., and I ensured that principles of natural justice were applied. Verma had access to all the documents and got a personal hearing. The enquiry was completed in fourteen days, it was all done. Thereafter, it was for the Supreme Court to decide. The report was 50 pages but there were 1,000 pages of annexures, he told The Indian Express.
When the Supreme Court on January 8 set aside the October 23, 2018 CVC orders and Verma was divested of his powers and functions pending inquiry, the order made no mention of Justice Patnaik s findings.