Justice Arjan Kumar Sikri, who was part of a special committee that removed Alok Verma as CBI chief last evening, believed that there were prima facie findings of guilt on some serious allegations against Verma and that his continuation as the director of the Central Bureau of Investigation had become untenable.
This, according to Justice Sikri's one-time colleague, Markandey Katju, a former Supreme Court judge himself. (Katju was the chief justice of the Delhi High Court when AK Sikri was a judge there.)
Katju says he called up Justice AK Sikri this morning and asked him about what went on during the meeting of a three-member panel that decided to remove Alok Verma as CBI chief. That meeting was held yesterday and the panel comprised of Justice Sikri, PM Narendra Modi and the leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge.
(In case you need some context: Under Indian law, the CBI director's post is protected. Only a select panel can appoint him, remove him or take other similar action against him. This panel comprises the Chief Justice of India, or a nominee; the Prime Minister of India; and the Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha, or the leader of the largest Opposition party in Lok Sabha.)
Now, Markandey Katju says Justice AK Sikri gave him information about the meeting. Justice Sikri, Katju says, also gave him permission to make the information public.
According to a Facebook post put up by Katju, "The CVC [Central Vigilance Commission, an anti-corruption body] had recorded prima facie findings of guilt on some serious charges against [Alok Verma] Verma..."
The CVC made these findings after giving a "hearing" to Verma. "In view of these serious prima facie findings of guilt... Justice Sikri was of the opinion that until the matter was fully investigated... he [Alok Verma] should not remain on the post of Director, CBI...," Katju wrote in his Facebook post.
Katju's post also addressed a major controversy point surrounding Alok Verma's removal: Why did the select panel not give Alok Verma a hearing before removing him as CBI chief?
"... It is a settled principle that even suspension can be done without giving the accused a hearing, and suspensions pending enquiry are very common," Katju's post said, adding, "Verma has not even been suspended, far less dismissed. He has only been transferred to an equivalent post."
Katju's post came on the morning after Alok Verma's removal as CBI chief. The select panel met days after the Supreme Court reinstated Alok Verma, who was earlier sent on forced leave by the government.
Verma was sent on forced leave in light of his public feud with the CBI's No. 2 officer Rakesh Asthana. Both Rakesh Asthana and Alok Verma had accused each other of corruption. Both were sent on forced leave.