The Supreme Court Thursday reserved its judgment on petitions filed by the CBI Director and NGO Common Cause challenging a government order divesting Alok Verma of all responsibilities. Verma was sent on leave in October, along with his deputy CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana, after the two levelled allegations of corruption against each other.
While hearing the plea Thursday, the bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi questioned the government’s sudden move on the night of October 23, despite being told by the Attorney General that circumstances culminating in the decision began months before in July. The bench, also comprising Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph, sought to know why the government failed to consult a larger panel before taking action against the CBI officers. During the hearing, the Supreme Court said the government’s decisions should be taken in the interest of the institution.
Supreme Court resumes hearing on petitions filed by CBI Director Alok Verma and NGO Common Cause.
SC reserves order on CBI Director Alok Verma’s plea against Centre’s decision to divest him of powers
The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its order on the plea of CBI Director Alok Verma challenging Centre’s decision to divest him of his powers and sent him on leave.
The arguments were concluded by a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on behalf of Verma, Centre, Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and others who were party in the matter.
The court also heard the petition moved by NGO Common Cause which had sought court-monitored SIT probe into allegations of corruption against various CBI officials including Special Director Rakesh Asthana. READ MORE
SC reserves judgment on Alok Verma, Common Cause petitions
The Supreme Court has reserved its judgment on the petitions filed by CBI Director Alok Verma and NGO Common Cause challenging the Cente’s decision to divest Verma of his charges pending enquiry.
Supreme Court reserves judgement on petitions filed by CBI Director Alok Verma and NGO Common Cause challenging the Cente’s decision to divest Verma of his charges pending enquiry @IndianExpress— Ananthakrishnan G (@axidentaljourno) December 6, 2018
Kharge says government should have approached Selection Committee
Kharge's lawyer says the government could have approached the Selection Committee regarding the transfer of the CBI Director. He adds that if Section 4B of the DSPE Act (which states that the Director shall hold office for not less than two years) is not followed, it will give the Centre power to nullify the Act as well as the Vineet Narain case. The Selection Committee comprises the Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India and Leader of Opposition.
CJI says CBI Director protected by fixed tenure, Selection Committee
As Dave concludes, the CJI says the CBI Director is protected only by a fixed tenure and decisions made by the Selection Committee, reports The Leaflet. Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal is arguing on behalf of Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge, who has called the government's order "illegal".
NGO Common Cause says CBI Director is 'untouchable'
In case you're just joining us, Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave is making submissions for Common Cause, an NGO which moved the Supreme Court over the removal of CBI Director Alok Verma. Dave argues that the CVC does not have the power to remove the CBI Director, and its powers are limited to cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act. It also argues that the CVC cannot have different standards for Verma and Asthana.
"This man (CBI Director) is untouchable, if there was any exigency, the government should have approached the Selection Committee," the lawyer for Common Cause says, according to PTI. "All India Service rules don't apply to CBI Director, he has fixed tenure irrespective of superannuation."
CVC cannot have two different approaches on same issue: Dave
Dushyant Dave says, the CVC Act doesn't give power to CVC to superintendent over CBI director and CVC cannot have two differrent approach on the same issue. Further Dave says the Parliament brought a novel law which, is a law within a law.
Dave submits, "CVC cannot have one standard for Asthana and another for Verma."
Parliament has gone beyond SC's suggestion of composition of selection committee: Dave
Faliman Nariman concludes his arguments, while Dushyant Dave begins his arguments on behalf of Common Cause. Dave says, "Parliament has gone beyond the apex court's suggestion related to the composition of the selection committee comprising of the prime minister, Leader of Opposition and Chief Justice of India."
Further, Dave says, the power superintendence of CVC is limited to cases under Prevention of Corruption Act.
The hearing resumes.
Alok Verma: 'Transfer' is divesting of functions, not physical transfer
Alok Verma, responding to the AG, says 'transfer' means divesting of functions and not just the physical transfer from one place to another. When all the functions of my office are taken away, it amounts to transfer, his counsel tells SC.
Like there isn't an acting CJI, there cannot be an acting CBI Director, he adds, reports ANI.
The bench rises for lunch. Hearing to resume at 2 pm.
Rakesh Asthana tells SC that CVC's probe against Verma should be completed
The Supreme Court is hearing Special CBI Director Rakesh Asthana's petition now. He tells the SC that the CVC must complete its probe against Alok Verma.
ICYM this Express story: Author of CVC report says he has not seen it
Verma did not provide documents for months: CVC to SC
The CVC has said that it had to take action as it is answerable to the President and the Supreme Court. It added that it's decision to send Verma on leave was because the CBI Director did not provide documents for months, reports PTI. The SC had previously described the CVC's report against Verma as "very complimentary on some charges, not so complimentary on some charges, very uncomplimentary on some charges, and some charges require further probe.”
If CBI Director's tenure is fixed, can he be transferred?
During the hearing last week, CBI Director Alok Verma had argued that sending him of leave amounted to "transfer" as he has a fixed tenure of two years. Today, the bench, headed by CJI and comprising Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph, is examining whether a person in the post can be transferred. The CJI says that the idea of a fixed tenure is to give the Director some permanence. The AG, in response, said that the central government is within its right to change his terms of service—meaning his transfer and posting.
(Express Illustration by C R Sasikumar)
CVC was acting in 'extraordinary' situation, SC told
The Supreme Court is told that the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) order divesting Verma and Asthana were passed as the situation was "extraordinary". If the CVC had not taken action against the duo, which was probing cases against each other, it would have been dereliction of duty. The CVC, at the time, had said it would investigate the officer in the “interest of equality, fair play and principles of natural justice”.
SC asks why larger panel was not consulted
The bench has questioned why a larger panel was not consulted in the decision to send the CBI officials on leave. It says the government's decision should be taken in the interest of the institution (CBI). The government had told the SC that they were fighting like "Kilkenny cats" and exposing the agency to "public ridicule".
Express Explained | What are Kilkenny cats?
SC questions overnight decision, says in-fighting began in July
A day after the government told the Supreme Court that it had to intervene in the bitter fight between Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana as it had "exposed the CBI to ridicule", the apex court today questioned the overnight decision given that the circumstances culminating in the situation began months earlier July.
SC resumes hearing on CBI Director's petition
The Supreme Court has resumed hearing CBI Director Alok Verma's petition challenging a government order in October divesting him of his duties. A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi is hearing the petition. Follow this blog for the latest news.