Irked over 'leak', SC adjourns hearing of Verma's plea

Last Updated 20 November 2018, 21:02 IST

The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to hear a petition filed by CBI director Alok Verma, apparently indignant over press report on his response to an inquiry report by the CVC.

A bench presided over by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi expressed strong displeasure over what seems to a news report on Verma's response which was directed to be filed in a sealed envelope.

As the hearing began, CJI handed over two pages to senior advocate F S Nariman asking him to respond.

"As the most respected member of Bar, we want your response. What should we do about it? This (two pages) is for you only to respond," the CJI said.

Nariman, apparently, himself shocked after going through the note, said the press has not only to be free but responsible as well. He urged the court to summon the person who published and wrote the news report.

Also read: Doval spiked CBI plans to seize phones of RAW official

On this bench, also comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K M Joseph, said, we can give you time for one hour or so to think over and respond to it.

Nariman, again, said the person who has written or published it must be summoned.

"This is very disturbing," Nariman said.

"We wanted to protect individual officers," the bench said, indicating it had specifically asked to file the response in "sealed envelope".

The court also pointed out on Monday a counsel, advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, also representing Verma, had sought for three more hours for filing the response.

"This was totally unauthorised. Nobody asked him to seek more time. In fact, I myself along with my associate Subhash Sharma sat through the night to prepare the response," Nariman said.

At this stage, the bench said, "We don't think any of you deserve hearing today."

"For reasons need not be recorded, the matter is adjourned to November 29," the bench dictated in its order. The bench further explained the date of November 29 is given as Justice Kaul, a part of the bench, would be on leave due to personal reasons.

Also read: CBI feud turns murkier, officer drops big names

Verma had on Monday filed his response to the CVC report which did not clear him of all charges.

On November 18, the top court asked Verma to respond to the CVC report by putting it in four categories: “very complimentary on some charges", "not so complimentary on some charges”, “very uncomplimentary on some charges” and “some charges required further probe”.

The court had given him time by Monday 1 pm to file his reply in “sealed envelop”. It had also ordered the CVC report be kept under "utmost confidentiality" in view of "the need to preserve and maintain the sanctity of the CBI".

The CVC inquiry against Verma was supervised by former SC judge Justice A K Patnaik. It was initiated on a complaint by special director Rakesh Asthana to the Cabinet Secretary.

Hours after being divested of the charge as CBI director, senior IPS officer Verma had on October 24 approached the court, contending the “rapid fire” decision went against the statute and bypassed the sacrosanct order of a high-powered committee that appointed him for a fixed tenure of two year.

He was joined subsequently by an NGO, 'Common Cause' in the court which sought quashing of the orders “illegally” divesting Verma of the charge and appointing joint director M Nageshwar Rao as the interim chief of the premier investigation agency.

Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge also filed an application, contending that the orders issued by the Central Vigilance Commission and the Department of Personnel and Training without due approval of a high-powered committee of Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition and the Chief Justice of India was "completely illegal, arbitrary and punitive and without jurisdiction".

The top court, however, allowed the CVC to continue its probe against Verma and appointed Justice Patnaik to supervise it.

(Published 20 November 2018, 06:00 IST)

Follow us on