CJI Ranjan Gogoi led bench to hear plea of CBI Chief Alok Verma tomorrow

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New Delhi | Published: October 25, 2018 9:14:16 PM

The Supreme Court is slated to hear on Friday the petition filed by CBI director Alok Kumar Verma challenging the decision of the Centre to divest him of his duties and sending him on leave.

Alok Verma, CBI row, cbi chief, M Nageswara Rao, S K Kaul, K M Joseph, supreme court, india newsCBI director Alok Kumar Verma.

The Supreme Court is slated to hear on Friday the petition filed by CBI director Alok Kumar Verma challenging the decision of the Centre to divest him of his duties and sending him on leave. He has also sought stay of the Centre’s order asking him to proceed on leave and giving the interim charge of his post to Joint Director M Nageswara Rao, a 1986 batch Odisha-cadre IPS officer.

Verma’s petition is listed for hearing before a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph. His petition will come for hearing along with another plea filed on Thursday by an NGO, ‘Common Cause’, which has sought SIT probe into the allegations of corruption against CBI officials including special director Rakesh Asthana.

Verma seeking an urgent hearing on his plea, which was filed yesterday, had said that besides sending the agency’s chief and the Special CBI Director on leave, several officers probing sensitive cases have been changed. Advocate Gopal Shankarnaryanan, appearing for the CBI chief on Wednesday had sought urgent hearing and had also referred to the fact that the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) had taken the decision at 6 AM yesterday to divest Verma of his duties. Verma said there was a need for an independent probe agency as there were bound to be occasions when certain investigations into high functionaries do not take the direction that may be desirable to the government. He has assailed the decision of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) giving Joint Director M Nageswara Rao, the charge as head of the probe agency. The feud between Verma and Asthana escalated recently leading to registration of an FIR against Asthana and others including Deputy Superintendent of Police Devender Kumar, who is in the CBI custody in an alleged bribery case.

The FIR was lodged on a written complaint of Satish Babu Sana on October 15. It alleged that Kumar, the IO in a case, was repeatedly calling him to the CBI office to harass and compel him to pay bribe of Rs 5 crore for giving him clean chit. Asthana and Kumar both challenged the FIR in the Delhi High Court, which on Tuesday ordered CBI to maintain status quo on the criminal proceedings against Asthana. The Centre, the CVC and the DoPT intervened and decided to send the CBI Director and the Special Director on leave.

The plea said the decision taken “overnight” by the Centre and the CVC to divest him of his role as the head of the probe agency was “patently illegal” and such interference “erodes” the independence and autonomy of the institution. “Over the recent past, although all functionaries within the CBI from the investigating officer and the superintending officers up to the Joint Director and the Director have agreed on a certain course of action, the Special Director has been of a different view,” the plea said. It alleged that “hurdles posed” by Asthana have now been compounded by his complicity in “concocting evidence” to impugn the reputation of Verma, leading to a separate FIR being registered by CBI which has been challenged by the special director in the Delhi High Court.

The second plea, of NGO Common Cause, has sought court-monitored SIT probe into allegations of corruption against various CBI officials, including Asthana, who was divested of his responsibilities as the agency’s special director. The bench agreed to hear the plea after lawyer Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Common Cause, said that there were wider issues of corruption affecting the probe agency and the PIL needed to be heard urgently.

The NGO has sought relief including court-monitored Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe into allegations of corruption against CBI officials including Asthana, who along with CBI Director Alok Kumar Verma had been divested of powers and sent on leave.

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