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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.

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