GOVT REPLY IN SC ON WHY CBI BOSSES WERE BENCHED
CBI Director Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana were fighting like kilkenny cats, exposing the country’s premier investigating agency to public ridicule, the government told the Supreme Court on Wednesday, while justifying the decision to divest Verma of his duties.
Attorney General (AG) K K Venugopal also told the bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, that the government was well within its right to intervene and send both officers on leave by divesting them of their powers. The top law officer also asserted that 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 government was watching with amazement. The two top most officers were fighting like kilkenny cats... Dispute between the CBI Director and Special Director was pulling down integrity and respect of premier institution”, Venugopal told the bench, also comprising Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph.
The AG further submitted that the two top officers were fighting against each other and went public which exposed CBI to public ridicule. Referring to media reports, he said “Their public fight gave print and electronic media a field day. It was the duty of the government to ensure that confidence of public in this premier institution is restored”, he said.
The AG also rebutted the submission of Verma that the selection panel comprising the PM, Leader of Opposition and the Chief Justice should have been consulted before divesting of his powers. “The selection panel’s job was to select the candidate for appointment as the CBI Director and the central government, being the appointing authority, was well within its right to take action in view of prevailing extraordinary and unprecedented situation in CBI”, the AG said.
Replying to Justice Joseph’s query that how the government came to know that the officers have gone public with their fight and asked whether there was any press conference held by them, Venugopal referred to the media reports, and said, “He can produce relevant materials to this effect. The law officer then opposed the submission of Verma that sending him on leave amounted to his transfer and hence, the government cannot tamper with the apex court verdict which guarantees two years fixed tenure to the CBI chief. If anybody asks today, who is the CBI Director. The answer is Alok Verma ”, he said.
AG K K Venugopal told the bench that the govt was within its right to intervene & send officers on leave
The Attorney General said the fight between Alok Verma (L) & Rakesh Asthana (R) exposed the CBI to public ridicule.