Chris­tian Michel sent to five-day CBI cus­tody

Financial Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - PRESS TRUST OF IN­DIA

THE Cen­tre on Wed­nes­day told the Supreme Court that the fight be­tween two top of­fi­cers of the CBI — Di­rec­tor Alok Verma and Spe­cial Di­rec­tor Rakesh Asthana —in pub­lic ex­posed the premier probe agency to ridicule.

At­tor­ney Gen­eral KK Venu­gopal told a bench headed by Chief Jus­tice Ran­jan Go­goi that the fight be­tween the two of­fi­cers im­pacted the im­age of the CBI. The Cen­tre’s main aim was to see that con­fi­dence of the pub­lic in this premier in­sti­tu­tion is re­stored, he said.

“Dis­pute be­tween CBI Di­rec­tor and Spe­cial Di­rec­tor was pulling down in­tegrity and re­spect of premier in­sti­tu­tion,” he told the bench, also com­pris­ing Jus­tices SK Kaul and KM Joseph. “Two top of­fi­cers, Alok Ku­mar Verma and Rakesh Asthana, were fight­ing against each other and went pub­lic which ex­posed CBI to ridicule,” Venu­gopal told the bench.

He said the fight be­tween them had cre­ated an un­prece­dented and ex­tra­or­di­nary sit­u­a­tion and the Gov­ern­ment of In­dia was watch­ing with “amaze­ment” as to what these two of­fi­cers were do­ing. “They were fight­ing like Kilkenny cats,” Venu­gopal said, adding that it was ab­so­lutely es­sen­tial for the Cen­tre to step in and act in the tus­sle be­tween two of­fi­cers.

He also sub­mit­ted that the Cen­tre acted within its ju­ris­dic­tion on com­plaints made in July and Oc­to­ber this year. “If the gov­ern­ment had not done so, only God knows where and how this fight be­tween the two top of­fi­cers would have ended,” Venu­gopal told the bench.

The Cen­tre had pe­rused the re­port of the CVC, which on Asthana's com­plaint against Verma had made some rec­om­men­da­tions. After that the two of­fi­cers were sent on leave. Later, the apex court had di­rected the CVC to probe the com­plaint against Verma. The re­port was sub­mit­ted to the court in a sealed cover. The SC con­cluded the day’s hear­ing and posted the mat­ter for fur­ther ar­gu­ments for Thurs­day. The SC on Nov 29 had said it would first con­sider whether the gov­ern­ment has the power to di­vest the CBI di­rec­tor of his du­ties un­der what­ever cir­cum­stances or whether the se­lec­tion com­mit­tee headed by the Prime Min­is­ter should have been ap­proached be­fore mov­ing against Verma on cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions against him.

The court had taken this stand after mak­ing it clear that for now it was not go­ing into the al­le­ga­tions and counter-al­le­ga­tions in­volv­ing Verma and CBI's No.2 of­fi­cer Asthana, both of whom have been stripped of their pow­ers and sent on leave fol­low­ing their bit­ter feud. Verma’s two-year ten­ure ends on Jan­uary 31. He has chal­lenged the Cen­tre’s de­ci­sion.

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