SC raps govt for haste in acting against CBI chief

SC raps govt for haste in acting against CBI chief

SC questions Centre, CVC for action against Verma

The court was hearing pleas of Verma, who is challenging the Centre's decision against him, and NGO Common Cause, seeking a court-monitored SIT probe into allegations of corruption against various CBI officials, including Asthana. (PTI File Photo)

The Supreme Court on Thursday questioned the Centre and the Central Vigilance Commission for taking “overnight” action against CBI director Alok Verma, without seeking an approval from the selection panel of the Prime Minister, the CJI and leader of Opposition.

“The government has to be fair. What was the difficulty in consulting the selection committee before divesting the CBI director of his power? The essence of every government action should be to adopt the best course,” a bench presided over by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said.

The bench, also comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K M Joseph, pointed out that Attorney General K K Venugopal on Wednesday said the infighting in the CBI began in July.

“If you had tolerated it (infighting) since July, what was the difficulty in consulting the selection committee before taking action overnight in October?” the bench further asked.


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The court posed a series of questions as it reserved its order on a plea filed by senior IPS officer Verma and NGO ‘Common Cause’ against the orders issued on October 23 divesting him of his authority as the CBI director. It also sought to know if the court can appoint the CBI director as an interim measure.

The top court further said that even if there was such an exigency that the action had to be taken or the institution would have crumbled, it could have approached the selection panel subsequently.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the extraordinary situation demanded extraordinary measures. The law may not deal with a surprise situation, he said.

He asked the court to see how this order came to be passed and Verma and special director Rakesh Asthana were divested of their powers.

“Extraordinary and emergent situation had arisen. The order was passed impartially in case of both the seniormost officers. Raids were being conducted against each other and FIR was registered,” he said, referring to the internal fight within the CBI.

He said the CVC cannot remain as a mute spectator. It would have been guilty of dereliction of duty if it had not acted, he said.

"Verma did not provide documents for months. The CVC acted in a non-partisan manner," he said.

He maintained the orders passed on October 23 were just an interim one. The transfer would mean sending the officer from place A to place B, which was not the case here, Mehta said.

Attorney General contended that it was an artificial argument to say divesting an officer of his powers was meant transferring him.

Senior advocate F S Nariman, appearing for Verma, said the immediate cause of action arose after an FIR against Asthana on October 15.

Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, representing NGO, said there was no exigency in the matter when the complaint was made in August but the action was taken on Oct 23.

"They wanted to prevent CBI director from taking some action. There is something more than what meets the eyes," Dave said.

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