New Delhi: The Supreme Court will on Wednesday resume the hearing Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Director Alok Verma’s plea challenging government’s order divesting him of powers and send him on leave over the graft charges levelled on against him.
In the last hearing, the CJI Ranjan Gogoi-led SC bench said it would first consider whether the government has the power to divest the CBI director of his duties under whatever circumstances or whether the selection committee headed by the prime minister must be approached before moving against Alok Verma on corruption allegations involving him.
The court took this stand after making it clear that for now it was not going into the allegations and counter-allegations involving Verma and CBI’s No.2 officer and Special Director R K Asthana.
The top court also clarified it has not taken judicial note of Verma’s reply given to the court in a sealed cover on the probe findings of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) against him.
It had also asked the probe agency to keep record of all transfers made after Alok Verma was divested of his duties. “Should it become necessary to go into the CVC report, then we might have to defer the hearing to allow all parties to respond on the report,” said the CJI.
Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, told the Supreme Court that the government has the authority to appoint the CBI Director.
He also submitted before the apex court that the action taken against Verma does not amount to transfer. “Divesting of charges falls within the powers of Central government,” he said.
During the hearing on Verma’s petition seeking a stay on the Centre’s order contending it was against the guidelines laid down by the top court, his counsel Fali S Nariman said that he was appointed as CBI chief for a fixed tenure of two years and cannot even be transferred.
Nariman submitted if at all there was any proposal to clip the wings of the CBI director, then the proposal should have first gone to the selection committee or the government should have moved the court.
The Vineet Narain decision, delivered by the apex court in 1997, relates to probe of allegations of corruption against high-ranking public officials in India.
Before 1997, the tenure of the CBI director was not fixed and they could have been removed by the government.
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for NGO ‘Common Cause’ which has come in support of Verma, said even if a person is facing the corruption charges the issues like transfer of the CBI director have to go before the selection panel.