What ‘grave ex­i­gency’ prompted Verma’s overnight re­moval?: SC

■ SC re­serves ver­dict on Alok Verma’s plea chal­leng­ing Govt de­ci­sion to di­vest him of all pow­ers ■ Solic­i­tor Gen­eral Tushar Me­hta, rep­re­sent­ing the CVC, said that ex­tra­or­di­nary sit­u­a­tions needed ex­tra­or­di­nary reme­dies

The Hitavada - - FRONT PAGE -

OBSERVING that the “essence” of ev­ery Gov­ern­ment ac­tion must be in the in­ter­est of the in­sti­tu­tion, the Supreme Court on Thurs­day asked the Cen­tre and the CVC what was the “grave ex­i­gency” that prompted the “overnight” de­ci­sion to di­vest Alok Verma of his pow­ers as CBI Di­rec­tor over his bit­ter feud with Spe­cial Di­rec­tor Rakesh Asthana.

The court said this while pos­ing search­ing ques­tions to the Cen­tre and the Cen­tral Vig­i­lance Com­mis­sion(CVC) for wait­ing for more than three months to in­ter­vene in the feud be­tween Verma and Asthana, who is the probe agency’s No.2.

“In­sti­tu­tions can­not be al­lowed to crum­ble,” the court ob­served while re­serv­ing its ver­dict on the pe­ti­tions filed by Verma and oth­ers chal­leng­ing the Cen­tre’s Oc­to­ber 23 de­ci­sion to di­vest him of all pow­ers and send­ing him on leave.

“The essence of ev­ery Gov­ern­ment ac­tion must be in the in­ter­est of the in­sti­tu­tion and to adopt the best course,” said a bench headed by Chief Jus­tice Ran­jan Go­goi. At one stage, the court asked, “Can there be an act­ing di­rec­tor?”

Verma’s coun­sel and se­nior ad­vo­cate F S Na­ri­man replied in the af­fir­ma­tive. “Yes”, he said.

The bench than posed an­other query as to whether the apex court can ap­point any­one to head the CBI. Na­ri­man re­sponded that the top court can as it has the pow­ers un­der the Con­sti­tu­tion.

The top court re­minded the Cen­tre and the CVC that it was not that the fight be­tween Verma and Asthana emerged overnight, forc­ing the Gov­ern­ment to di­vest the di­rec­tor of pow­ers with­out con­sult­ing the Se­lec­tion Com­mit­tee com­pris­ing the Prime Minister, the leader of the Op­po­si­tion and the Chief Jus­tice of In­dia.

The court noted that the At­tor­ney Gen­eral K K Venu­gopal had sub­mit­ted that the cir­cum­stances cul­mi­nat­ing in the sit­u­a­tion had started in July but the Gov­ern­ment ac­tion came in Oc­to­ber.

The bench, also com­pris­ing Jus­tice S K Kaul and K M Joseph, said the Gov­ern­ment has to be “fair” and asked what the dif­fi­culty was in con­sult­ing the Se­lec­tion Com­mit­tee be­fore di­vest­ing the CBI di­rec­tor of his pow­ers. “Na­ri­man’s sub­mis­sion is also what is the dif­fi­culty in con­sult­ing the se­lec­tion panel. It is bet­ter to con­sult the se­lec­tion panel. What is the best in the in­ter­est of the ad­min­is­tra­tion of the in­sti­tu­tion,” the bench said, adding “at the ear­li­est, go to the panel or com­mit­tee when there is a grave ex­i­gency”.

“Can you see the sit­u­a­tion which prompted CVC to take ac­tion. It was not overnight. It was hap­pen­ing since July as the At­tor­ney Gen­eral said.”

The court made the ob­ser­va­tions when Solic­i­tor Gen­eral Tushar Me­hta was jus­ti­fy­ing the ac­tion of the CVC which en­ter­tained the com­plaint of Asthana that was for­warded by the Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary. Me­hta, rep­re­sent­ing the CVC, said ex­tra­or­di­nary sit­u­a­tions needed ex­tra­or­di­nary reme­dies and re­ferred to apex court judge­ments and the laws govern­ing the CBI.

He said the Com­mis­sion’s su­per­in­ten­dence over the CBI en­com­passed “sur­prise, ex­tra­or­di­nary sit­u­a­tions”. Me­hta told the court that the top of­fi­cers of the CBI, “in­stead of in­ves­ti­gat­ing cases, were in­ves­ti­gat­ing cases against each other”.

He said the ju­ris­dic­tion is vested in the CVC to in­quire or else it would have been guilty of dere­lic­tion of duty. If it did not act, it would be an­swer­able to the Pres­i­dent of In­dia and the Supreme Court, he added.

Fur­ther, he jus­ti­fied the in­ter­ven­tion of the CVC in the tus­sle be­tween the two of­fi­cers by say­ing that “the on­go­ing fight be­tween them vi­ti­ated the of­fi­cial en­vi­ron­ment in the CBI. It vi­ti­ated the en­vi­ron­ment among CBI of­fi­cials.” When the bench said the power of the CVC is con­fined to the in­ves­ti­ga­tions of cases un­der the Preven­tion of Cor­rup­tion Act and re­ferred to the di­rec­tions is­sued on Oc­to­ber 23, the Solic­i­tor Gen­eral said the or­ders were passed in re­spect of both the of­fi­cers un­der ex­tra­or­di­nary and emer­gent sit­u­a­tion. Asthana was also di­vested of his pow­ers and sent on leave.

Mean­while, the Supreme Court on Thurs­day agreed to hear on De­cem­ber 11 in cham­ber a cu­ra­tive plea chal­leng­ing its de­ci­sion by which it had dis­missed a PIL against ap­point­ment of Gu­jarat cadre IPS of­fi­cer Rakesh Asthana as spe­cial di­rec­tor of CBI.He said the jus­ti­fi­ca­tion is also in or­der as the two se­nior of­fi­cers were fight­ing against each other and “the in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cers in each cases were raid­ing each other and FIRs were be­ing filed against each other and it was a sur­prise sit­u­a­tion”.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.