New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday reinstated Alok Verma as CBI Director. However, Verma cannot take major policy decisions. The High Power Committee will have to consider the matter afresh, the court reportedly said.
As Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi was on leave, the judgement was pronounced by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul. The court reportedly said that if the intent of the government order was to allow an “interim measure” against Verma then the statute should have spelt it out so.
The court said that to initiate Verma’s removal, the Government should have referred to the Select Committee comprising the Chief Justice, the Prime Minister and the Leader of Opposition.
The court also added that “the word ‘transfer’ cannot be given its normal meaning. It has to be understood as encompassing acts affecting the functioning of the CBI Director”.
In its last hearing on December 6, the court had reserved its verdict on Verma’s plea against the October 23 government order. The Centre’s decision, against which Verma had filed his plea, had come in the wake of the feud between him and CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana.
Justifying its action, the Centre had said the two top officials were fighting like “Kilkenny cats”, exposing the 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. His two-year tenure as CBI director ends on January 31.
In the December 6 hearing, the top court had pulled up the Centre for not approaching the selection committee before sending Verma on forced leave.
The three-judge bench said, “Fight between the two senior most CBI officers did not emerge overnight so why did the Government take immediate steps to divest CBI Director Alok Verma of his powers without consulting the Selection Committee?”