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CBI vs CBI: CVC has no power to remove Alok Verma, argues Kapil Sibal | As It Happened

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A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi heard the response of Verma given in a sealed cover on the findings of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) in the preliminary inquiry against him. The court fixed the next hearing on Dec 5.

India TV News Desk India TV News Desk
New Delhi Updated on: November 29, 2018 19:34 IST
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi is likely to

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi is likely to consider the response of Verma given in a sealed cover on the findings of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) in the preliminary inquiry against him. 

 

The Supreme Court on Thursday heard CBI director Alok Verma's plea challenging the government's order divesting him of his duties and sending him on leave in view of graft allegations against him. A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi heard the response of Verma given in a sealed cover on the findings of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) in the preliminary inquiry against him. The court fixed the next hearing on Dec 5.
 

ALSO READ | CBI vs CBI: After Supreme Court's ultimatum, Alok Verma files reply on CVC's finding

 

AS IT HAPPENNED:

15:56: Today's hearing comes to an end. Next hearing on Wednesday

15:40 : Attorney General K K Venugopal submits to the SC that the committee selects a group of candidates for the appointment of Director of CBI, and puts it up before the govt. Then, it is the government which appoints the right candidate, out of these (ANI)

15:00 pm: Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhavan now making his arguments on behalf of AK Bassi. There is an emphasis on autonomy with a guaranteed 2-year tenure, says Rajeev Dhavan. The non-obstante clause in Section 4B overrides all rules. No rule can be invoked to whittle away the two-year tenure, argues Rajeev Dhavan. If there is a lacuna in the Act, only Your Lordships can fill the same. They (Govt) cannot act claiming that they will plug the lacunae states Rajeev Dhavan.

14:55 pm: Yes, that is my submission, says Kabil Sibal.

14:50 pm: Are you saying CBI Director can’t be touched by government, transferring him, sending him on leave, suspending him and that it can be done only by Committee, asks CJI Gogoi.

14:45 pm: Kapil Sibal representing Mallikarjun Kharge submitted to SC that "the ambit of power of superintendence of CVC is limited. They can’t simply use this to remove a Director of the CBI, or seal his office."

14:44 pm: The order by CVC is outside the ambit of power of superintendence of the CVC, submits Kapil Sibal. The power of superintendence cannot override Sections 4A and 4B of DSPE Act, he argues. This matter has to go to the Committee. The Committee can then take a decision based on the material on record, states Sibal. What happened to CBI today could happen to CVC tomorrow, argues Sibal.

14:30 pm: Kapil Sibal commences arguments for Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha.

14:20 pm: Selection committee alone has been entrusted both by Your Lordships and the Parliament to take such an action. Hence, this present order falls foul of rule of law, says Dushyant Dave. For the same reason, appointment of M Nageshwar Rao as interim director should also be set aside, Dushyant Dave concludes.

14:15 pm: Dushyant Dave submits that it is settled principle in administrative law that what cannot be done directly cannot be done indirectly. This in the context of Govt issuing a leave order instead of transfer order.

13:00 pm: In matters of discipline, CVC has no role to play, says Dushyant Dave.

12:55 pm: Dushyant Dave begins arguments for NGO Common Cause. For now, the arguments will be limited to the aspect of deference to the Committee.

12:50 pm: If he was to be transferred, they should have consulted the Committee. They have not transferred him, but still divested him of his powers by the leave order asks Fali Nariman. What was the purpose of all this, asks Fali Nariman. The leave order will not stand without permission from the Committee says Fali Nariman.

12:44 pm: It is not that he cannot be transferred; he can be, but it should be with the consent of the Committee, says Fali Nariman.

12:40 pm: CBI Director shall not be transferred except with the previous consent of the Committee, says Fali Nariman. With effect from 2014, the appointment of the CBI Director is to be done by a Committee consisting of the Prime Minister, the Leader of Opposition and the Chief Justice of India. If there is no leader of the opposition, then the leader of the single largest party will be part of the committee, submits Fali Nariman.

12:37 pm: Fali Nariman cites Vineet Narain’s case regarding the appointment of CBI officers, functioning and independence of CBI.

12:33 pm: Senior lawyer Fali S Nariman, appearing for CBI director Alok Verma, submitted to Supreme Court that CBI Director should have a minimum period irrespective of his superannuation. He also said that Director's transfer should be cleared by Selection Committee which selected him.

12:10 pm:  Hearing begins in Supreme Court. The apex court is hearing CBI director Alok Verma's plea challenging the government's order divesting him of his duties and sending him on leave in view of graft allegations against him.

Earlier on November 20, the apex court had expressed deep anguish over the purported leak of Verma's response to the CVC's findings against him as also the publication of allegations levelled by the agency's DIG Manish Kumar Sinha in his separate plea. 
 
The court had made it clear that it would not hear any party and would confine itself to the issues red flagged by it. 
 
Miffed over the alleged leak of Verma's confidential response to the CVC's findings, the court had said it wanted to keep the CBI director's response confidential to maintain the probe agency's dignity. 
 
While adjourning the hearing for November 29, the court had taken umbrage to various media reports based on the petition filed by Sinha levelling allegations against various top functionaries. 
 

 ALSO READ | CBI vs CBI: Feud turns murkier; MK Sinha drags names of Union minister, NSA Ajit Doval

Sinha in his plea filed on November 19, dragged the names of NSA Ajit Doval, Union minister Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary and CVC K V Chowdhury over alleged attempts to interfere in the probe against CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana, who has been divested of his duties and sent on leave along with his boss.
 
The court had earlier issued notices to the Centre, CBI, CVC, 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 investigation was completed on November 10.
 
The CVC was earlier 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. 
 
(With PTI inputs)

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