The Supreme Court on Tuesday pronounced its verdict on CBI Director Alok Kumar Verma’s plea against the Centre’s decision to divest him of powers and sending him on leave. SC has quashed both CVC and DoPT’s order.
Verma has sought quashing of three orders of October 23, 2018 one by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and two by the department of personnel and training (DoPT), as being without jurisdiction.
The move to send him on leave amounted to removing him, he said, which cannot be done without the concurrence of a high-powered committee that approves CBI director’s appointment.
Yes SC reinstated Alok Verma as the CBI Director however, he can’t take any major decision till the PM-led committee gives their report. SC has asked the high-powered committee formed under DSPE Act to act within a week considering his case. Verma is set to retire at the end of this month.
In its order pronounced by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, the Supreme Court said that it intends to maintain the independence of the Central Bureau of Investigation.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had on December 6 reserved its judgment after hearing arguments on behalf of Verma, the Centre and the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC). The same bench delivered the judgment on Tuesday.
It said that a legislation exists and it intends to protect and insulate the office of the CBI director.
“The transfer of the director without the consent of the selection committee negates the legislative intent that is to ensure independence of CBI,” the court said.
“Within a week, the selection committee, led by the PM, will meet and look into the aspect of whether Verma needs to be removed or not,” the court.
The court had also heard the plea moved by NGO Common Cause, which had sought a court-monitored SIT probe into the allegations of corruption against various CBI officers, including Asthana.
Asthana had moved the Delhi High Court requesting it to quash the FIR registered against him by the agency for allegedly accepting gratification in the Moin Quresh case. The court has reserved its order.
Challenging the government’s decision, Verma’s counsel and senior advocate Fali S Nariman had argued that the CBI director was appointed on February 1, 2017 and “the position of law is that there will be a fixed tenure of two years and this gentleman cannot be even transferred”. He argued there was no basis for the CVC to pass an order recommending that Verma be sent on leave.
Attorney general KK Venugopal justified the Centre’s intervention and said it was well within “its right” to send both officers on leave. “Only the God knows where and how this fight between the two top officers would have ended” if the government would not have taken the action which was aimed at restoring the public faith in the CBI, the law officer had argued.
Reacting to the judgement, Advocate Prashant Bhushan who represented NGO common cause supporting Verma said, “what is the point of setting aside the order but not allowing him to take any policy decisions. Once court recognised that government”s order was wrong he needed to be compensated for the months he had lost. This order means operation successful but patient dead.”