NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday reinstated Alok Verma as CBI director which could be seen as a setback to the Modi government.
Justice Sanjay Krishan Kaul announced the judgement on behalf of Ranjan Gogoi, the Chief Justice of India who was on leave today.
The top court set aside the Central Vigilance Commission’s October 23rd order that forced Alok Verma on leave. However, he cannot take major policy decisions.
“This case would be sent to a statutory committee for further referral, pending which Alok Verma could not take major policy decisions as CBI director”, the apex court said.
"The Government should have referred this case to the select committee comprising of Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India and Leader of Opposition if it wished to initiate the removal of the CBI director”, the court added.
The apex court was hearing the plea of CBI director Alok Verma and NGO Common Cause challenging the central government decision to send him on leave forcefully and divesting him from all responsibilities, calling it an extraordinary and unprecedented situation.
On December 6, 2018, CJI Ranjan Gogoi had reserved the verdict after hearing the argument of Verma, the Union government, Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), NGO Common Cause, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge and others who were the party in the case.
Ranjan Gogoi had raised questions over the timing of the order and asked why the government took immediate action to divest Verma of his powers without consulting the selection committee.
While answering, the CVC had told the apex court that extraordinary situations sometimes need extraordinary remedies.
Senior advocate Fali Nariman, appearing for Verma, had contended that in all circumstances the CVC and the Centre should have consulted the Selection Committee.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal who had filed a plea against the Centre’s and CVC decision of sending Verma on leave had argued that the government does not have the power to remove or transfer the CBI director.
Both CBI director Alok Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana were sent on leave on October 25, 2018, after their feud had become public, as they had levelled allegations of corruption against each other.
Asthana accused the CBI director of accepting a bribe from a Hyderabad based businessman being investigated by the agency, simultaneously, Verma also accused Asthana of the same crime.
After sending Verma on leave, CBI’s joint Director M Nageswara Rao was given the charge of interim chief of the probe agency.
With inputs from ANI
Image credit: The Hindu