The Congress Friday accused the government of undermining the CBI as an institution and said it was firing "political bullets" from the shoulders of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), which it dubbed as a "collaborator in violating the Constitution".
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi alleged that the CVC adopted double standards and condemned its action of ousting former CBI director Alok Verma basing its report on "conjectures, premises and unsubstantiated" evidence, while it was not acting in the Rafale case where a number of documents have been provided to it.
He also said the government was indulging in "spin doctrine" and stands exposed in using institutions like the CVC to play hide-and-seek on the issue of CBI director.
"Scared of the 'Rafale truth', the Narendra Modi government is in a cowardly fashion taking refuge and firing bullets from the shoulders of the CVC to completely damage and undermine the independence of the premier investigation agency - the CBI. It is extremely alarming, shocking and deplorable that the CVC as an institution is willingly allowed itself to be subordinated in this fashion.
"The Congress strongly condemns this tyranny and absolutism whereby credibility of institutions is being bulldozed and institutions like the CVC are being made to surrender in front of a desperate government, which will go to any extent to prevent independent CBI functioning. We are seeing the beginning of the end of the 'One Man, One Rule Era'," Singhvi told reporters.
Taking a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said, a man who cannot take criticism or defeat "used frivolous grounds to prove his point, misuse his power, distort the findings of CVC and misled the nation".
Singhvi alleged it is "highly regrettable" that the government is "repeatedly using the shield of the CVC and indeed its shoulder to fire these politically motivated bullets at the CBI".
"If mere allegations, surmises, conjectures and the use of subjective adjectives will become the basis for the removal of statutory and Constitutional post holders then the most alarmed persons should be the prime minister and the president of the ruling party, who have constantly maintained that absent adjudication of allegations or strong virtually irrefutable evidence, they would not step down," Singhvi said.
Citing the Rafale case, he said the CVC has not acted upon the case, while it has taken action in the Verma case, but did not act against CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana, against whom evidence has been provided.
The Congress leader alleged that there is a complete lack of equivalence and stark contrast between direct physical and documentary evidence of serious wrongdoing in the case of Asthana, including witnesses, FIRs, in contrast to the Verma case.
It is significant that the Delhi High Court rejected Asthana's petition to quash the FIR against him, and instead directed the CBI to proceed and complete its investigation in this regard.
"We are stunned that the CVC is practicing willful and Nelsonian blindness to such obvious facts," he said.
Singhvi said the committee should have at least given a hearing to Verma on the charges against him as it was the appointing and removing authority under the law and not the CVC, on whose report the panel based its decision.
Verma, who was to retire on January 31, was Thursday removed from the post of CBI director in a split decision of 2:1 by a high-powered committee comprising the prime minister, Kharge and Justice A K Sikri.
He said the former CBI director should have been granted 'natural justice' and this was stated by Kharge.
The principle of natural justice demands that the high powered committee should have given a hearing to Verma and then take a decision he said, adding that the committee instead ousted him from the post without even listening to his side of the story.
"Why was the CBI director not heard in the committee before a decision to transfer him was taken," he asked.
"The CVC office was completely bulldozed in 'save Modi operation'. Hence, the CVC report is not the gospel truth to form the entire and sole basis for the committee to remove Verma. The committee should see the nature of the superficial and subjective charges in the CVC report.
"The CVC report can never be a substitute for a due process of law enquiry. The committee has overlooked the fact that the CVC report, which is the sole basis of the committee's conclusions, is based upon charges raised by a complainant (Asthana) who is not only himself under CBI investigation, but also whose petition to stop and quash such investigation has been dismissed today," he said.
Singhvi said in light of the "vacuous" CVC report "it is safe to unambiguously state that there is not a speck of evidence or grounds to remove the CBI director".
"In its usual disingenuous and spin doctoring manner another fig leaf behind which Modiji and the government is trying to hide is that of Justice Patnaik," he said.