SC’s Alok Verma Order: Who Gets What Out of It?

The checks imposed by the Supreme Court have ensured that the CVC power to inquire into the charges against Verma are supervised by a former judge of the apex court; and that the interim director can not take any policy decisions insofar as the CBI is concerned.

The court said the inquiry will be conducted under the supervision of a former Supreme Court judge.

In a dramatic midnight action, the government on Tuesday divested CBI chief Verma of his charge and made Joint Director M. Nageshwar Rao the interim director.

It said the Centre and CBI should place before it in a sealed cover the list of decisions taken by Rao from October 23 till today. Though the court granted two weeks time to the CVC to complete the inquiry, it turned down the request for probe without any monitoring.

CBI Director Alok Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana were asked to proceed on leave on the recommendations of Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).

It said, the retired judge will supervise the CVC inquiry against Verma because of the importance of the case without casting aspersions on any constitutional or statutory authority.

In a letter written to Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, expressing his regret at being unable to attend the launch of his book "The Paradoxical Prime Minister" on Friday evening, Kharge said that Tharoor's book "could not have come at a better time than now". The bench told Rohatgi that since his petition is not before it, the court would not hear him at this stage.

Nearly a year before that, another bench of the Supreme Court had come down heavily on the CBI while hearing a coal scam case and had said the probe agency had become a "caged parrot" speaking in the voice of its political masters. Asthana is said to have withstood vast political pressures during the fodder scam probe.

He submitted that the CBI director was appointed with the approval of a selection panel having the Prime Minister, the Leader of Opposition and the Chief Justice of India.

Senior advocate Fali S. Nariman, appearing for Verma, cited a 1997 judgement (Vineet Narain vs Union of India) that laid down guidelines on the functioning of the CVC and the CBI. The BJP leaders said that since Verma and Asthana's allegations against each other were seen as a blow to the agency's reputation, it was only fit for the government to divest the two officers of their powers temporarily. Asthana, incidentally, has been reported by the media as close to PM Modi, a Gujarat cadre officer who was brought into the CBI and tipped to succeed Alok Verma after his retirement end year.

  • Jon Douglas