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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Overheard in Supreme Court: Author of CVC report says he has not seen it

Senior Counsel Dushyant Dave, appearing for NGO Common Cause, has filed a petition challenging the government’s decision to divest Verma of his responsibilities

Written by Ananthakrishnan G | New Delhi | Updated: November 17, 2018 7:00:17 am
Central Vigilance Commissioner K V Chowdary

The Supreme Court on Friday allowed Attorney General K K Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to have a copy of the Chief Vigilance Commissioner’s report, inquiring into charges against CBI Director Alok Verma, but turned down the request of the agency’s Special Director Rakesh Asthana for the same.

Mehta, appearing for CVC, told the bench, “I have also not seen the report.”

Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi replied in a lighter vein, “You are the CVC. You are the author of the report.” The S-G was quick to add, “I appear on behalf of the CVC and the report was shared only with the court.”

“You mean Mr Mehta has not seen it,” quipped the CJI.

A-G Venugopal backed the SG and said, “I was telling my friend. He is the CVC. So he should have a copy in his hand.” The SG added, “The CVC took the view, and I think rightly, that since the court has asked for it, it will be placed only before the Court. Kindly allow me to have access.”

Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, representing Asthana, contended that he too should be given a copy of the report.

“This is not a case of the security of the nation. Why should it be in a cover? I should get a copy and I want to respond to it,” Rohatgi told the bench, but the CJI did not agree.

“Who are you,” asked the CJI. “I’m the complainant,” replied Rohatgi.

“Whom did you complain to?,” the CJI continued. “I complained to the Cabinet Secretary and he sent it to the CVC,” Rohatgi added.

The CJI took on Rohatgi and sought to know, “If we are passing any order that is adverse to you, you will be entitled to it…on whose authority you filed a complaint to Cabinet Secretary?”

Rohatgi kept up his protests, but the bench moved on to Senior Counsel Rajeev Dhavan. Dhavan told the bench he was appearing for CBI officer A K Bassi. “That investigating officer who has been transferred to Andamans?”, the CJI asked. “Who has been sent to Port Blair,” said Dhavan. “Port Blair? Good place”, came the CJI’s reply as the packed courtroom burst into laughter.

The counsel said there was an investigation in progress against Asthana and he wanted to bring certain aspects to notice. The CJI assured, “We will take up your application on the next date”.

Senior Counsel Kapil Sibal, appearing for Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, was next.

“Who are you?”, the CJI asked Sibal, who replied “Mr Kharge”. “So you are the leader of the single largest party in Opposition! We had forgotten about you!”, the CJI remarked. The court said it will look into his petition on the next date.

Senior Counsel Dushyant Dave, appearing for NGO Common Cause, which has filed a petition challenging the government’s decision to divest Verma of his responsibilities, was next in line.

Following concerns expressed by him about decisions being taken by interim director M Nageshwar Rao, the court had earlier allowed Dave to bring to notice any major decision Rao may have taken.

On Friday, as Dave said there were some difficulties in doing this, the court remarked that since he had not told the court about what decisions he was referring to, “we will presume that he has not taken any major policy decision”.

The CJI said Rao had submitted a “list” of decisions taken and asked Dave if he had anything “to supplement”. It, however, deferred considering Rao’s report and kept it open for the parties to “supplement the said list”.

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