Reinstated CBI Chief May Reopen Modi’s Rafale Corruption Case

Sonia Gandhi Leads Protest to Highlight Corruption in Modi’s Rafale Deal. Photo: Congress
Sonia Gandhi Leads Protest to Highlight Corruption in Modi’s Rafale Deal. Photo: Congress

After today’s Supreme Court order, the CBI director Alok Verma will be able to register FIR against PM Modi and his accomplices and carry out the pending Rafale deal investigations.

By Rakesh Raman

With a major rebuke to the Narendra Modi government which had unceremoniously removed CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) director Alok Verma, today the Supreme Court of India ordered the reinstatement of Verma.

However, the Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph restrained Verma from taking any major policy decision until a high-powered committee decides his case.

The committee comprising of the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition, and Chief Justice of India has been given one week to consider the case.

Eralier, the Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had ordered Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to complete the inquiry for the allegations of corruption against CBI director Alok Verma, who was forced by the government to go on leave.

[ Nawaz Sharif Jailed in Corruption Case. Can PM Modi be Jailed? ]

The CJI was hearing a petition filed by Verma through a senior lawyer Fali Nariman to challenge the government order. The court had said that the probe will be conducted by an ex-Supreme Court judge AK Patnaik.

A public interest litigation (PIL) filed in the Supreme Court had also challenged the removal of CBI Director Alok Verma who was abruptly asked by the Modi government to go on leave.

It is said that Verma was trying to probe the Rafale deal in which it is alleged that corruption worth crores of rupees has been committed by the Modi government. It is also alleged that PM Modi himself is involved in this criminal act.

[ New Petition Demands JPC Probe into Modi’s Rafale Scam ]

Former BJP ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie, and lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan had filed a complaint with the CBI, urging the agency to register an FIR against Modi and former defence minister Manohar Parrikar.

The complaint alleges that Modi and Parrikar have committed a number of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, in the course of the April 2015 decision to purchase 36 Rafale aircraft from Dassault Aviation. The complaint was handed over to Alok Verma, director of the CBI, who was suddenly removed by the Modi government in a hasty, illegal manner.

The complaint states that Modi – who is a public servant – misused his position as PM of India to give undue benefit to his close associate Anil Ambani who is the Chairman of Reliance ADA group of companies.

“With 46 documents as annexures, it makes an unanswerable case for prosecution of PM Modi, Ambani, and co-conspirators under the Prevention of Corruption Act,” Prashant Bhushan said.

The opposition political party Congress also had submitted a detailed complaint about corruption in Rafale deal to India’s top anti-corruption organization CVC.

It is alleged that PM Modi has caused a loss of over Rs. 35,000 crore (about US$ 5 billion) to public funds to benefit his businessman friend Anil Ambani.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi said that CBI Director Alok Verma was collecting papers related to Modi’s Rafale corruption and he was forced to go on leave. “The country and the Constitution are under attack,” he said in his tweet.

In order to stop any investigation in the Rafale deal, the Modi government in a late-night decision in October had ordered Verma to proceed on leave. In a weak defence, the government said that it has asked the CBI officer to go on leave with recommendation from the CVC, which, in fact, works tightly under the control of the Modi government.

The NGO Common Cause – through advocate Prashant Bhushan – had filed the PIL to get the government orders quashed while allowing Verma to continue his service.

Prashant Bhushan said after today’s Supreme Court order that now CBI director Alok Verma will be able to register FIR (against Modi and his accomplices) and carry out the pending (Rafale deal) investigations.

By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society.

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Rakesh Raman