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CBI vs CBI: SC Reinstates Alok Verma as CBI Chief

Tooba Maher
Tooba Maher

The Supreme Court on Tuesday quashed government's order divesting Alok Verma of his powers and sending him on leave. The apex court has reinstated Verma but restrained him from taking big decisions. ​ 

However, Alok Verma had filed a plea against the Centre's decision to divest him of powers and sending him on leave.  

As being without jurisdiction and in violation of Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution, Verma has sought 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). 

On 6th December, a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had reserved its judgment after hearing arguments on behalf of Verma, the Centre and the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC). The same bench has delivered the judgment on Tuesday. 

Though, in a midnight order issued on October 23, Verma was asked to go on leave, prompting him to rush to the top court challenging the administrative orders. Verma’s two-year tenure as CBI director ends on January 31. 

The Centre told the apex court that it was forced to intervene because of the rift between Verma and his number two, Rakesh Asthana, a development that is believed to have dented CBI’s image. 

Verma and Asthana have accused each other of corruption. A CBI team had begun a criminal investigation against Asthana. As the feud between the two senior officers became public, the government also asked Asthana to go on leave. 

As an interim measure, it appointed CBI’s joint director M Nageswara Rao, a 1986 batch Odisha-cadre IPS officer, as the agency’s temporary chief. 

With Rao’s approval, orders were also issued to transfer and reassign 13 officials, including those who were probing the case against Asthana. 

Verma’s counsel and senior advocate Fali S Nariman had argued that the CBI director was appointed on February 1, 2017 and “the position of law is that there will be a fixed tenure of two years and this gentleman cannot be even transferred.”  

He further argued there was no basis for the CVC to pass an order recommending that Verma be sent on leave. 

Attorney General, KK Venugopal justified the Centre’s intervention and said it was well within “its right” to send both officers on leave. “Only the God knows where and how this fight between the two top officers would have ended” if the government would not have taken the action which was aimed at restoring the public faith in the CBI, the law officer had argued. 

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