New Delhi, January 8: The Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down the order passed by government divesting Alok Verma of powers and reinstated him as the CBI Director. The top Court said Verma can't be stripped off his powers and asked the government to go back to the selection committee. With the top Court's decision, Verma can't take major policy decisions till the decision of the Select Committee which comprises of the Chief Justice of India, Prime Minister and Leader of Opposition. The SC said the word "transfer" cannot be given normal meaning and it has to be understood as encompassing acts which affect the functioning of CBI Director.
As CJI Ranjan Gogoi was on leave, the judgement was pronounced by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul in court number 12. The top Court pronounced the verdict on Verma's plea against the Centre's decision to divest him of his powers and sending him on leave. While reading the verdict, Kaul said the CBI director has to be the role model of the agency’s independence. “Public interest is paramount in ensuring independence of the CBI,” the verdict said. Verma, whose two-year tenure as CBI director ends on January 31, had moved the top court challenging the Centre's decision. CBI vs CBI: Supreme Court Questions Government, Asks Why Selection Committee Wasn't Consulted Before Divesting Alok Verma of His Powers; Order Reserved.
The verdict was pronounced on two petitions, one filed by Verma and the other by NGO Common Cause, challenging the government’s decision. The bench had reserved its order in the matter on December 6, 2018.
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), as being without jurisdiction and in violation of Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution. CBI vs CBI Battle Explained: Why Alok Kumar Verma and Rakesh Asthana are at Loggerheads? How it All Started.
The government had taken a decision against Verma and CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana after their feud had become public as they had made allegations of corruption against each other. The Centre had justified its decision to divest Verma of his duties and sending him on leave before the apex court saying he and Asthana were fighting like "Kilkenny cats", exposing the country's premier investigating agency to "public ridicule".
On December 6, a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had reserved the judgement after hearing arguments on behalf of Verma, the Centre, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and others.
According to a report by PTI, the top Court had also heard the plea moved by NGO Common Cause which sought a court-monitored SIT probe into the allegations of corruption against various CBI officials, including Special Director Rakesh Asthana.