Updated: January 8, 2019 6:12:32 pm
Reinstating senior IPS officer Alok Verma as CBI Director, the three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi Friday passed certain specific directions.
• It set aside the October 23, 2018 order of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and the Department of Personnel & Training divesting the powers, functions, duties, supervisory role, etc. of Verma as CBI Director;
• It directed that the matter will now be examined by the Committee under Section 4A(1) of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946 — comprising the Prime Minister, the Leader of Opposition and the Chief Justice of India — “at the earliest and, in any case, within a week from the date of this order”;
• It directed that because the issue of divestment of power and authority of the CBI Director is still open for consideration by the Committee, Verma, upon reinstatement in his post, “will cease and desist from taking any major policy decisions till the decision of the Committee permitting such actions and decisions becomes available”.
• In the interregnum, Verma’s role “will be confined only to the exercise of the ongoing routine functions without any fresh initiative, having no major policy or institutional implications”.
From a plain reading of the judgment (you can read the full text here), the court has not detailed whether any transfers ordered by the Director will be categorised as a purely administrative decision or will be seen as a “policy” decision.
However, the judgment makes it clear that Verma will have the power to exercise “routine functions” — which would mean that he can take decisions regarding the important investigations being undertaken by the CBI.
Tuesday’s decision adds to the court’s decision in the Vineet Narain case (Vineet Narain & Others vs Union Of India & Another, December 18, 1997) which ruled that the removal of CBI Director, including sending him on leave, can only be done by the high powered Committee that selects the Director.
The order is a blow for the government, whose decision has been overturned by the judges. It signals a pushback by the judiciary, which has seen several of its judgments criticised by the government in recent months, and faced accusations of overreach into the domain of the executive. How is the Opposition reacting to today’s SC verdict? Read it here
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