A three-judge Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph will on Friday hear Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Director Alok Verma’s petition challenging the government's decision to send him on leave and divest him of all powers.
Senior jurist Fali Nariman will represent Verma in the top court while Attorney General KK Venugopal will represent the Centre, and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta will appear for the Central Vigilance Commission.
The CBI on Thursday had said both Verma and Asthana will retain their position in the agency as director and special director and Nageshwar Rao will remain interim chief till Central Vigilance Commission examines the allegations the two officials traded.
Advocate Gopal Shankarnarayana, who had filed the petition on Verma's behalf on Wednesday, had sought for an urgent hearing from the bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph.
"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.
Shankarnarayana also challenged the decision of the government by which Joint Director M Nageswara Rao, a 1986-batch Odisha cadre IPS officer, has been given charge as head of the probe agency.
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.
"As matters stood thus, the CVC (Central Vigilance Commission) and the Central Government have overnight taken the impugned decisions to divest the petitioner of his complete role as Director CBI and to appoint another individual in his stead. These actions are patently illegal for the reasons...," it said. The petition also said that as the apex court has repeatedly stated that CBI ought to be insulated from the government, the present actions give serious credence to the requirement that the agency be given independence from the DoPT.
In an unprecedented move by the Central government, Verma and CBI's Special Director Rakesh Asthana were sent on leave till further notice and their offices were sealed on Wednesday. Joint Director M Nageshwar Rao, a 1986 batch officer, took charge as the interim chief of the investigating agency with immediate effect.
The feud between Verma and Asthana began after the CBI charged the latter with demanding a Rs 5-crore bribe from Satish Sana, a Hyderabad-based businessman, in return for keeping him out of a money-laundering case against meat exporter Moin Qureshi. In turn, the Gujarat-cadre officer -- who is said to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah -- accused his superior of several offences in a letter to the Union government.
Supreme Court issues notice to CVC, the Centre and CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana on their pleas. Next date of hearing on November 12.
SC grants two weeks time to CVC for concluding probe.
CJI Ranjan Gogoi states, "CVC will carry on probe in 10 days under the supervision of a judge of this court. M Nahgeshwar Rao shall perform only routine task. Change of investigating officer by CBI will be furnished in sealed cover on 12 of November before SC." The court has even called for a report from CBI in sealed cover about the decisions taken by Nageshwar Rao between October 23 till this day.
Centre and CBI will provide CVC report to court in sealed cover within 10 days: SC
CJI Gogoi in his order states," inquiry in respect of the allegation made in the note of the Secretariat as regards the present CBI Dir Alok Verma shall be completed by the CVC within a period of 2 weeks from today.The inquiry will be conducted by the retired SC judge AK Patnaik"
CJI Gogoi in his order states," inquiry in respect of the allegation made in the note of the Secretariat as regards the present CBI Dir Alok Verma shall be completed by the CVC within a period of 2 weeks from today.The inquiry will be conducted by the retired SC judge AK Patnaik" pic.twitter.com/hgzllKJIRz— ANI (@ANI) October 26, 2018
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the CVC says "10 days may not be enough to complete the inquiry and opposes supervision of CVC inquiry by SC judge."
CBI Interim Chief M Nageshwar Rao will not take any policy decisions: SC
Nariman refers to CVC and Centre's orders divesting Verma of his duties. He also cites Vineet Narain judgment to support Verma's plea.
Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi says, "Court will ask CVC inquiry into CBI Directors and Special Director, both of whom have been asked to go on leave after feud, to complete it in 10 days under supervision of a sitting SC judge."
Fali Nariman opens arguments on behalf of Verma in the top court
Supreme Court commences hearing on CBI chief Alok Verma's plea against Centre's order to divest him of powers and send him on leave
CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana moves the Supreme Court against the Centre's leave order. pic.twitter.com/eyosqxxlxR— ANI (@ANI) October 26, 2018
Former Attorney General and senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi leave for Supreme Court from his residence. He will be representing CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana.
CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana outside former Attorney General and senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi's residence in Delhi.
CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana outside former Attorney General and senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi's residence in Delhi. pic.twitter.com/BpHTywQA3P— ANI (@ANI) October 26, 2018