CJI to govt: CBI’s bat­tle didn’t start at night no?

Mail Today - - NEWS - By Anee­sha Mathur in New Delhi By in Chandigarh

THE Supreme Court on Thurs­day asked the Cen­tre to ex­plain why the de­ci­sion to send CBI Di­rec­tor Alok Verma on leave was taken in Oc­to­ber even though the dis­pute had been in pub­lic do­main since July.

Does the CBI Di­rec­tor have such pro­tec­tion that nei­ther the Cen­tre nor the CVC can touch him for his any ac­tion dur­ing the fixed ten­ure of two years? This ques­tion arose in the SC, which was hear­ing the pe­ti­tions filed by CBI Di­rec­tor Alok Verma and oth­ers chal­leng­ing the Cen­tre’s de­ci­sion to di­vest him of all pow­ers and send­ing him on leave along with Spe­cial Di­rec­tor Rakesh Asthana. Both have lev­elled al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion against each other.

The ques­tion came in re­sponse to the ar­gu­ment by Solic­i­tor Gen­eral Tushar Me­hta, who ar­gued that the CVC de­ci­sion was a “re­sponse to an ex­i­gent sit­u­a­tion.”

When se­nior ad­vo­cates Fali Na­ri­man and Dushyant Dave, ap­pear­ing for Verma and an NGO, Com­mon Cause re­spec­tively, ar­gued that nei­ther the Cen­tre nor the Cen­tral Vig­i­lance Com­mis­sion (CVC) had any power to take dis­ci­plinary ac­tion against the CBI Di­rec­tor, a bench headed by Chief Jus­tice Ran­jan Go­goi asked: Will that not make CBI Di­rec­tor vir­tu­ally un­touch­able? Is that what

Par­lia­ment in­tended? Does the fixed ten­ure of CBI

Di­rec­tor su­per­sede all rules and makes him un­touch­able,

‘Cen­tre & CVC can’t take such ac­tions’

asked the bench, also com­pris­ing Jus­tices S K Kaul and K M Joseph.

Though Verma, ac­cord­ing to the Cen­tre re­mains the CBI Di­rec­tor, Ad­di­tional Solic­i­tor Gen­eral P S Narasimha ap­pear­ing for the CBI, sub­mit­ted that there was no need to go to the Se­lec­tion Com­mit­tee be­fore tak­ing dis­ci­plinary ac­tion against Verma.

Na­ri­man and oth­ers op­pos­ing the Cen­tre’s de­ci­sion took the stand that ac­tion against the CBI chief can be taken only by the high-level panel, com­pris­ing the Prime Minister, A MAG­IS­TE­RIAL probe into the Am­rit­sar train tragedy, in which around 60 peo­ple died, has given a “clean chit” to Navjot Kaur Sidhu, wife of Pun­jab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who was the chief guest at the Dussehra event.

“Navjot Kaur Sidhu, the wife of the lo­cal bod­ies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who at­tended the func­tion as a chief guest, had no role in or­gan­is­ing the event,” says the re­port. Re­act­ing to the re­port, Navjot Kaur Sidhu said that their op­po­nents were politi­cis­ing the is­sue to ma­lign our im­age.

“If I am in­vited as a chief guest and an ac­ci­dent leader of the op­po­si­tion and the Chief Jus­tice of In­dia, in­volved in the se­lec­tion process.

“If you want to do some­thing that has the ef­fect of di­vest­ing the di­rec­tor of his pow­ers, wouldn’t it be bet­ter to con­sult the com­mit­tee?” asked the bench, which then ob­served that “the essence of any gov­ern­ment ac­tion should be what is best for the ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

“It’s not only a ques­tion of ad­her­ence to the law but the bet­ter ad­her­ence to the law,” com­mented the CJI.

“The rule is that di­rec­tor has to re­main in of­fice for not less than two years. The ter­mi­nol­ogy is im­por­tant,” ar­gued Na­ri­man.

The hear­ing also saw Asthana’s coun­sel and se­nior ad­vo­cate Mukul Ro­hatgi tak­ing the stance that a di­rec­tion be passed to take the CVC en­quiry re­port against Verma to its log­i­cal con­clu­sion.

(With PTI in­puts)

‘She had no role in or­gan­is­ing event’

Navjot Kaur (seen with hus­band Navjot Sidhu) had been ac­cused of or­gan­is­ing the Dussehra event where the ac­ci­dent took place.

The case in the top court is also about cor­rup­tion charges lev­elled against each other by Alok Verma (right) and his deputy Rakesh Asthana (left).

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