NGO Common Cause on Thursday approached the Supreme Court with a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the government decision to divest CBI Director Alok Verma of his powers and appoint N Nageshwar Rao as the Interim Director.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan mentioned the plea before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and requested that it be tagged along with a petition filed by Alok Verma which has been fixed for hearing on Friday. The bench said it will look into Bhushan’s request and asked him to hand over the diary number — it was later listed for Friday before the CJI bench.
In its plea, the NGO sought quashing of the Central Vigilance Commission order of October 23, which it said “illegally divested” Verma of his work for “malafide reasons”. It also requested the court to quash the order issued by the Appointments Committee of Cabinet giving Rao interim charge.
The plea alleged that “the chain of events shows that Mr Alok Verma is being victimised for taking action against Mr Rakesh Asthana, a Gujarat cadre officer, and also for entertaining complaint against the top functionaries of the present government”. It said the government’s action “destroys the independence of the premier investigating institution”.
The petition also sought removal of CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana from the agency “in light of serious corruption cases pending against him”, saying this was necessary “to ensure institutional integrity”.
The NGO requested the court to constitute a “Special Investigating Team to look into the recent unprecedented events… and also to investigate the allegations of corruption against senior officials of the CBI and submit the report… for the consequent action”.
“…the CVC, in the guise of power of superintendence, could not have withdrawn the work from the Director and handed it over to a new officer without the consent of the committee… At most, the complaint against Mr Verma should have been referred to the committee,” the plea said.