CBI case hearing: Centre’s order divesting CBI Director of duties has no basis, Alok Verma’s counsel tells Supreme Court

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New Delhi | Updated: November 29, 2018 2:12:20 PM

The Supreme Court hearing on CBI Director Alok Kumar Verma's petition against the government's decision to divest him of duties and send him on leave got underway at 2 PM after a short recess today.

CBI case hearingCBI case hearing: Centre’s order divesting CBI Director of duties has no basis, Alok Verma’s counsel tells Supreme Court

The Supreme Court hearing on CBI Director Alok Kumar Verma’s petition against the government’s decision to divest him of duties and send him on leave got underway at 2 PM after a short recess today. Senior advocate Fali Nariman, who was appearing for Verma, submitted his argument before CJI Ranjan Gogoi headed bench. The other judges on the bench were Justice SK Kaul and KM Joseph.

The court had last week deferred the matter till November 29 after content of Verma’s response on CVC’s findings were published in media. Also, it was irked over the publication of allegations levelled by CBI DIG Manoj Kumar Sinha in his separate plea involving NSA Ajit Doval.

During the argument, Nariman said that the court can’t prohibit publication of content of petition. He cited Article 19 of Constitution to say, “If I file something tomorrow in the Registry then it can be published.”

Nariman also referred to the publication of Sahara case materials in media even before they were filed the court. He said that the view in Sahara judgment is that media can’t be prohibited from publishing the material that are filed in the court. The advocate then urged the court to frame guidelines on publication of case related materials in media.

Nariman submitted that CBI Director can’t be transferred without seeking consent from the empowered committee headed by the Prime Minister of which Leader of Opposition and CJI are members. “They have not transferred him, but still divested him of his powers by the leave order. What was the purpose of all this?” asked Nariman.

“The leave order will not stand without permission from the Committee,” he contended.

Dushyant Dave, appearing for Prashant Bhushan’s NGO Common Cause, told the court that it is a settled principle in administrative law that what cannot be done directly cannot be done indirectly too.

“This in the context of government issuing a leave order instead of transfer order,” he said.

The court had earlier directed the CVC to complete its inquiry against Verma before November 12 and file its report before November 12. The CVC conducted its inquiry in the given time frame and submitted its report. It had not given a clean-chit to Verma and suggested further probe into the matter was required.

The crisis within the CBI saw Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana accuse each other of corruption, forcing the government to send the two officers on leave and order a probe by CVC. The same order was challenge by Verma in the Supreme Court.

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