New Delhi, Dec 6: The Supreme Court today reserved its verdict on a plea filed by Central Bureau of Investigation Director Alok Verma and NGO common cause challenging the Central government decision to divest Verma of his charges.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi reserved the order on the conclusion of arguments by the Central government, Central Vigilance Commission and CBI on one hand, and petitioner Verma, the NGO and others on the other hand.
During the hearing, the apex court asked the Narendra Modi government that why the Centre had not consulted the selection panel before divesting Central Bureau of Investigation Director Alok Verma of his powers.
The bench of CJI Ranjan Gogoi questioned ‘fight between the two senior most CBI officers did not emerge overnight so why did government take immediate steps to divest the CBI Director Alok Verma of his powers without consulting the Selection Committee?’.
‘Government has to be fair, what was the difficulty in consulting the selection committee before divesting Alok Verma of his power? Essence of every government action should be to adopt the best course’, CJI Gogoi told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, Counsel of the Centre.
The Chief Justice asked ‘what prompted Govt to take an overnight decision on October 23 to divest CBI director Alok Verma of his powers? When Verma was retiring in few months why not wait for few more months and consult selection committee?’
Responding to this, the Solicitor General told the apex court that “the CVC had come to the conclusion that an extraordinary situation had arisen and that extraordinary situations sometimes need extraordinary remedies”.
“CVC order was passed impartially. Two senior most officers were fighting and investigating cases against each other, instead of probing serious cases.CVC’s inaction would have been dereliction of duty’, he added.
“CBI Director Alok Verma was not transferred and it was an artificial argument by him that he was transferred. It was not a transfer and two officers were divested of the charges and functions”, Venugopal asserted.
Advocate Fali Nariman representing the CBI Director Alok Verma told the bench ‘In all circumstances, they must consult the selection committee. Transfer in this case doesn’t mean transfer in service jurisprudence. Transfer doesn’t only mean one place to another.’
‘there can’t be an acting Chief Justice of India, there has to be a Chief Justice of India as per the constitution. Same situation here, they can’t have an acting director of CBI.’
To this, CJI Ranjan Gogoi asked ‘If there is an exigent issue situation can the Supreme Court appoint an acting director?’
Alok Verma’s Counsel Fali Nariman said in response to the CJI “yes Supreme Court can appoint because the final arbiter of the constitution is the SC”.