Modi vs CBI: SC adjourns CBI chief Alok Verma case to December 5

The Supreme Court, which was the hearing the plea of outed CBI chief, has adjourned the case to December 5

Modi vs CBI: SC adjourns CBI chief Alok Verma case to December 5
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NH Web Desk

The Supreme Court, which was the hearing the plea of outed CBI chief on Thursday, November 29, adjourned the case to December 5. He is seeking a reinstatement through the plea. He had been removed from office and divested of all his administrative duties and power unexpectedly on October 23 following a midnight order after a inter-department feud with Rakesh Asthana his deputy.

The Supreme Court is hearing two petitions, one by Alok Verma and the other by a non-profit organisation Common Cause regarding the sudden removal of the CBI director and if the move was legal.

While arguing the case, Verma's lawyer Fali Nariman referred to the Vineet Narain judgment regarding independence of CBI and fixed tenure of CBI Director. Nariman says, “The transfer of CBI Director should have approval of Selection Committee.”

Agreeing with Nariman, Kapil Sibal, appearing for Mallikarjun Kharge, who is the leader of the Opposition party and a member of the Selection Committe, says, “This matter has to go to the Committee. The committee can then take a decision based on the material on record.”

“The power of superintendence cannot override Sections 4A and 4B of Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act. The order by CVC is outside the ambit of power of superintendence of CVC. What happened to CBI today could happen to CVC tomorrow,” adds Sibal.

“There is an emphasis on autonomy with a guaranteed two-year tenure. The non obstante clause in Section 4B overrides all rules. No rule can be invoked to whittle away the two-year tenure,” argues Rajeev Dhavan, for CBI officer AK Bassi. He had filed an intervention application instead of a separate petition because, “If Alok Verma was not sent on leave, he would not have been transferred to Andaman and Nicobar Islands,” adds Dhavan.

Attorney General KK Venugopal says, “The committee selects a group of candidates and put it up before the govt. It is the govt which then appoints one among those candidates. The committee's powers is only upto the selection of group of candidates, the power to appoint then vests with the Central government alone.”

“The Govt intervention was to protect the public confidence in CBI, which was getting negative in view of the serious fight between two of its top officials. The Government’s intervention was in public interest,” asserts Venugopal.

“Alok Verma continues to hold the status of CBI Director, and enjoys all privileges and benefits of the post till date,” says Venugopal.

Alok Verma, in his petition, has challenged the grounds on which he was sidelined and said the move was “patently illegal” and an attempt to undermine the federal agency’s independence

The CBI’s two top officers, director Alok Verma and Special director Rakesh Asthana have accused each other of engaging in corrupt actions and the controversy stems from these accusations. Alok Verma has been accused of accepting a bribe from meat exporter Moin Qureshi.

Alok Verma, in his petition, has challenged the grounds on which he was sidelined and said the move was “patently illegal” and an attempt to undermine the federal agency’s independence according to a report in the Hindustan Times.

M Nageswar Rao was asked to step in and assume the role of the CBI director and look into the duties and functions for the post.

The other petition which was filed by Common Cause was filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan and asked that the Supreme Court to quash the CVC’s recommendation to remove Alok Verma from his post stating that it was done on the basis of “malafide reasons.” The “chain of events shows that Verma is being victimised for taking action against Asthana, a Gujarat cadre officer, and also for entertaining complaint against the top functionaries of the present government,” stated the petition.

In an earlier hearing before the Supreme Court, it expressed it’s anger over the breach of confidentiality that took place over Verma’s response to the CVC report. The court had said, “This court is not a platform for people to come and express what they want. This is a place for adjudication of legal rights. This is not right. We intend to set it right.” It also observed: “Our effort to maintain the respect of this institution is not being shared by everyone.” This took place on November 20.

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Published: 29 Nov 2018, 12:31 PM