SC reserves order on Centre’s decision to remove Alok Verma as CBI chief

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its order on a plea filed by CBI Director Alok Verma and NGO ‘Common Cause’ challenging the Center’s decision to divest Verma of his charges

During the hearing, senior Congress leader and Lok Sabha MP Mallikarjun Kharge’s lawyer told the apex court that the Centre could have come to the Parliamentary Selection Committee on the allegations against Verma.

“The Centre could have come to Selection Committee and asked it to transfer Verma,” said Kharge’s lawyer to the apex court.

Dushyant Dave, the lawyer representing NGO common cause told the court that All India Service rules don’t apply to CBI Director as he has fixed tenure irrespective of superannuation.

“This man (CBI Director) is untouchable, if there was any exigency government should have rushed back to selection committee,” said the lawyer to the court.

“Does fixed tenure of CBI Director supersede all rules and makes him untouchable,” SC asked the NGO lawyer.

Earlier, the Central Vigilance Commission, while replying to the hearing of CBI Director Alok Verma’s plea against the Centre’s decision to divest him of powers and send him on leave, told the apex court that extraordinary situations need extraordinary remedies.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the CVC, referred to apex court judgements and laws governing the CBI and said the Commission’s superintendence (over the CBI) encompasses “surprise, extraordinary situations”.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said Attorney General K K Venugopal told the court that circumstances culminating in the situation had started in July.

“Essence of the government action must be in the interest of the institution,” the bench said.

The top court said it was not that the fight between the CBI Director and Special Director Rakesh Asthana emerged overnight, forcing the government to divest the director of powers without consulting the Selection Committee.

It further said the government has to be “fair” and asked what the difficulty was 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,” the top court said.

The chief justice also asked the CVC what prompted it to take such an action since it was not something that happened overnight.

Mehta told the court that the top officers of the CBI, “instead of investigating cases, were investigating cases against each other”.

He said the jurisdiction is vested in the CVC to inquire or else it would have been guilty of dereliction of duty.

If it did not act, it would be answerable to the President of India and the Supreme Court, he added.

He said the reference for inquiry against the CBI director had been sent by the government.

“CVC started probe but Verma did not give documents for months”, Mehta said.

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