New Delhi: As the Supreme Court reinstated Alok Verma as CBI Director, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday said that government will act in accordance with the top court’s verdict. “SC apparently has strengthened the immunity given to CBI director in larger interest of fair and impartial investigation. Therefore in accordance with direction of the top court, orders will be complied with and the government will act in the same manner,” asserted Jaitley, while reacting to Verma’s reinstatement.
Furthermore, he said,”Matters related to appointment and removal can only be done by Appointments Committee but in cases of corruption it can be done by Central Vigilance Commission (CVC). The government had taken this action of sending two senior officers of the CBI on leave on the recommendation of the CVC.”
He added that the government had not got the opportunity to read the full order and his reactions were based on media reports. “The government will read the order in detail and then react,” Jaitley said.
Meanwhile, the Congress and other Opposition parties have targeted Narendra Modi, saying the Prime Minister has been exposed for ‘destroying’ the premier investigating agency.
“The apex court had dealt a blow to the government with its order reinstating Verma and setting aside the Centre’s decision divesting him of his powers and sending him on leave,” the grand old party said.
“Modiji adds another 1st to his list. After being the first PM to be exposed destroying the CBI before the SC. After having ruined CVC’s credibility (requiring supervision by former SC judge), Modi has now become 1st PM to have his illegal orders set aside by the SC,” tweeted Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala.
He also asked PM Modi to remember that governments had come and gone but the integrity of institutions had survived. “Let this be a lesson to you about the strength of our democracy and the Constitution. Let this be a lesson that howsoever despotic u may be, law catches up in the end,” Surjewala tweeted further.
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti also welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision, saying the apex court ruling had restored faith in independent institutions. “Welcome SCs decision to reinstate Alok Verma as CBI Dir. (It) reinstates belief in independent institutions of our democracy that are its pillars,” Mufti said in a tweet.
She added,”Time for the Central government to stop misusing its influence to arm twist investigative agencies like (the) NIA and CBI for political vendetta.”
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the order was a direct indictment of the government. “SC reinstating CBI director Alok Verma is a direct indictment of the PM. Modi govt has ruined all institutions and democracy in our country. Wasn’t CBI director illegally removed at midnight to stall the probe in Rafale scam which directly leads to PM himself?” the Aam Aadmi Party chief said on Twitter.
Speaking to reporters outside Parliament, Rashtriya Janata Dal MP Manoj Jha described the order as a “big slap” on the face of the government.
Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan said the Supreme Court order was a partial victory for Verma. “He has been restored but strangely he has been restrained from taking any policy decisions,” he said.
Earlier in the day, the apex court set aside the Centre’s October 23 decision divesting CBI Director Alok Kumar Verma of his powers and sending him on leave. The SC reinstated Verma but restrained him from taking any major policy decision till the Central Vigilance Commission inquiry into corruption charges against him is over. Notably, Verma’s two-year tenure as CBI Director ends on January 31. The judgement was pronounced by Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph, as Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi was on leave.
Earlier on December 6, the top court had reserved its verdict on Verma’s plea against the October 23 government order. The SC had also reprimanded the Centre for not approaching the selection committee before sending Verma on forced leave.
Defending its action, the Centre had said the two top officials were fighting like “Kilkenny cats”, exposing the country’s premier investigating agency to ‘public ridicule’. In his plea, Verma has sought the 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 and in violation of Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution.