The Congress on Saturday joined the legal battle over CBI Director Alok Verma with Mallikarjun Kharge, its leader in the Lok Sabha and one of the three members of the committee that appoints the CBI chief, filing a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the Government’s “illegal” decision to divest Verma of all powers. He has demanded that the order be quashed.
Talking to The Sunday Express, Kharge said he has filed a “separate petition” saying that the “Government’s decision was in violation of the law” and The Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946. “Only the three-member committee has the power to appoint, remove, suspend or dismiss a CBI director. This suo motu, unilateral decision is against the CBI Act,” he said, adding that the Director has a two-year tenure and cannot be transferred without the prior consent of the committee.
A section of the Congress, however, was of the view that the party should not have directly approached the Supreme Court. “We could have done it by so many ways without ourselves doing it. We should not have gone,” a senior leader told The Sunday Express.
In the intervention application filed before the SC, Kharge, while arguing that the decision to divest the Director of his functions and power at the CBI was “arbitrary, illegal and without jurisdiction”, has requested the court to pass an appropriate order quashing the CVC and DoPT order.
Kharge joins the legal battle that’s playing out in three different courts — the Supreme Court, Delhi High Court and the Patiala House courts. In the SC, on the petitions filed by Verma and NGO Common Cause, the bench of CJI Ranjan Gogoi has directed the CVC to complete the probe against the Director in two weeks under the supervision of Justice (retired) A K Patnaik. The Delhi HC is hearing a clutch of petitions filed by CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana, CBI DSP Devendra Kumar and alleged middleman Manoj Prasad.
Kharge, in his plea, has argued that order was in “derogation of powers” conferred upon the statutory committee of the Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India and Leader of the Opposition under Section 4A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act.
“The Applicant as a concerned stakeholder wishes to bring to the kind attention of this Hon’ble Court the brazen and illegal actions of the political executive in interfering with the independent functioning of the Director, CBI. It is respectfully submitted that the entire action of the CVC vide its order 23.10.2018 and the DoPT vide order dated 23.10.2018 seeking to divest Director, CBI, Shri Alok Kumar Verma, IPS, of his statutory powers and functions is completely illegal, arbitrary, punitive, without jurisdiction,” said the plea.
Kharge told the court that he had written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 25, where he placed “on record the fact that no meeting of the Selection Committee was convened to deliberate on this issue as prescribed under law”. “It was also pointed out that de-facto transfer/ divesting of the authority of the Director, CBI is illegal and malafide,” the plea said.
He also submitted in the plea that being a member of the committee, he was “not consulted nor was he a part on any meeting or privy to any decision to divest” Verma of his powers. “It is also not in public domain that any such meeting of the Statutory Committee was convened….(the order) as such ought to be set aside to maintain the institutional sanctity and integrity of the CBI,” the plea said.