The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Friday CBI director Alok Verma’s plea challenging the government’s order divesting him of his duties and sending him on leave in view of allegations of corruption against him. A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, is also likely to consider the report of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), placed before it in a sealed cover, with regard to the probe into the allegations of corruption against Verma.
The bench is also likely to consider the report of acting CBI director M Nageswara Rao also filed in a sealed cover in the court with regard to the decisions taken by him from October 23-26. Besides the plea filed by Verma, the court is also seized of the PIL filed by NGO Common Cause, which has sought a probe by special investigation team against CBI officers.
The court has issued notices to the Centre, CBI, CVC, special CBI director Rakesh Asthana, Verma and Rao asking them to respond to it by November 12. The CVC had on November 12 filed in the apex court its preliminary enquiry report. The allegations have been levelled against Verma by his deputy Asthana, against whom an FIR has been lodged by the CBI on graft charges.
Asthana was also sent on leave by the Centre. The court had taken both the reports (CVC and Rao) on record on November 12. The CVC probe against Verma was supervised by former Supreme Court judge A K Patnaik and the probe was completed on November 10. On October 26, the top court had appointed Justice Patnaik to supervise the ongoing inquiry of CVC against Verma. The apex court had issued notices to the Centre and the CVC seeking their replies on Verma’s petition challenging the government’s decision to divest him of his powers as CBI chief and sending him on leave.
On October 26, it had also set a deadline of two weeks for the CVC to complete the preliminary inquiry against the CBI director. Besides, it had barred Rao from taking any major policy decision but granted him liberty to perform routine tasks that are essential to keep the CBI functional. It had said a list of all the decisions taken by Rao since October 23, including decisions with regard to transfer of investigations, change of investigating officer(s) etc, will be furnished to the court in a sealed cover on or before November 12, 2018, whereafter orders as would be appropriate will be passed by the court.
The CVC was directed by the court to conduct an inquiry into the allegations made in the August 24 note/letter of the Cabinet Secretary with regard to Verma. Asthana has also moved the apex court with a separate petition in the matter and has sought removal of Verma from the post of CBI Director.
On November 4, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge had moved the top court contending that divesting Verma of his statutory powers and functions is “completely illegal and arbitrary”. In an interlocutory application filed in the pending petition, Kharge, who is also a member of the three-member selection committee which appoints the CBI director, said that “as a concerned stakeholder he brings to the attention of the court the brazen and illegal actions” of the political executive in interfering with the independent functioning of the CBI director.