Court can't prohibit publication of news: Verma to SC

Court can't prohibit publication of news: Verma to SC

Central Bureau of Investigation Chief Alok Verma. (PTI File Photo)

CBI director Alok Verma on Thursday told the Supreme Court that publication of news on documents filed in courts can't be prohibited in view of the Constitution bench's judgement of 2012.

Faced with a strong rebuke on the last date of hearing for a purported leak of his response to the CVC inquiry report, senior advocate Fali S Nariman, representing Verma, said the publication of news is also protected under Article 19 (1)(A) of the Constitution, which is paramount.

"You can't restrain the publication of news. You can at the most order for its postponement," he submitted before a three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.

Nariman cited the 2012 Constitution bench judgement passed by then CJI S H Kapadia in the Sahara case, where the issue of publication of news related to court proceedings was examined.

"The court may, if necessary, issue circular or rules on postponement because, at times, some scandalous and vexatious allegations are made in documents filed in the court which the registry can't refuse to accept," he added.

Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for CBI officer A K Bassi, also contended that the apex court's remark that nobody deserved a hearing was most unfortunate.

The bench, also comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K M Joseph, however, started hearing Verma's writ petition challenging the validity of the October 23 order divesting him of his powers as CBI director.

"If something goes wrong, the matter has to go before the high-powered committee, comprising PM, CJI and Leader of Opposition," Nariman said, as the court started hearing the arguments.

He said the CBI director enjoyed a fixed tenure of two years. The director can't be denuded of his power without the consent of the committee.

"What if he is caught red-handed taking bribe? Can you continue him even for a moment," Justice Joseph asked Nariman, who said then also the matter has to go to the committee.

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