New Delhi: The Congress on Saturday demanded reinstatement of CBI Chief Alok Verma, terming his ouster from the investigating agency by the Prime Minister-led selection committee, a negation of "natural justice" and a decision taken to derail the Rafale probe.
Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi referred to the statement given to a newspaper by retired Supreme Court Justice A.K. Patnaik, who supervised the selection committee meetings, to accuse the ruling party of removing Verma from the CBI post in "haste and anxiety" and with a view to "hide matters of public interest".
"This is very serious, it is urgent, it is very important because ultimately the issues are the same, the issues have not changed. But, the issues highlight a tearing hurry, anxiety and urgency to hide vital matters of public interest. This government is running scared... I think, it is very clear... that there is much to hide, it is not a cupboard full of skeletons, it is only skeletons, there is no cupboard," Singhvi said in a press conference.
"Was it that the CBI Director was deep into the investigative stage of Rafale? Was it that he had evidence, witnesses, documents which would nail the multiple lies of this government, the Prime Minister, the ruling party president?" he wondered.
Apart from Verma's reinstatement, the party also demanded reconvening of the selection committee and giving him back the 77 days out of his two years' tenure which he lost due to the probe.
Earlier, Patnaik had told a newspaper that there was "no evidence" of corruption against Verma and that the committee took the decision in "very, very haste".
"There was no evidence against Verma regarding corruption. The entire enquiry was held on (CBI Special Director Rakesh) Asthana's complaint. I have said in my report that none of the findings in the CVC's report are mine," he had told The Indian Express.
Verma was transferred by the three-member selection committee -- including Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge, who dissented against Verma's removal -- from the CBI Chief's post to the post of Director General of Fire Services on Wednesday, two days after the Supreme Court had reinstated him.
Verma on Friday quit the government service, alleging in a letter that "natural justice was scuttled" in inquiry involving him.