Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Setting aside the Central Government and Central Vigilance Committee’s (CVC) October 23, 2018 order divesting CBI Director Alok Verma of his charge, the 3-judge bench of Ranjan Gogoi, CJ and SK Kaul and KM Joseph, JJ ordered reinstatement of Alok Verma with riders. The Court made it explicit that Alok Verma’s role as the Director, CBI during the interregnum and in terms of this order will be confined only to the exercise of the ongoing routine functions without any fresh initiative, having no major policy or institutional implications.

The Court said that the elaborate directions given by the Court in Vineet Narain v. Union of India, (1998) 1 SCC 226; the amendments made to the provisions of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 and the enactment of the Central Vigilance Commission Act, 2003 cannot be bypassed as the provisions and the judgement ensure the insulation of the CBI director from all external interference if the CBI has to live up to the role and expectations of the legislature and enjoy public confidence to the fullest measure. The Court said:

“the clear legislative intent in bringing the aforesaid provisions to the statute book are for the purpose of ensuring complete insulation of the office of the Director, CBI from all kinds   of   extraneous   influences,   as   may   be,   as   well   as   for upholding the integrity and independence of the institution of the CBI as a whole.”

Interpreting the words “transferred   except   with   the   previous   consent   of   the Committee” mentioned in Section 4B(2) of the DSPE Act, the Court said:

“If the word “transferred” has to be understood in its ordinary parlance and limited to a change from one post to another, as the word would normally convey and on that basis the requirement of “previous   consent   of   the   Committee” is understood to be only in such cases, i.e. purely of transfer, such an   interpretation   would   be   self­defeating   and   would   clearly negate the legislative intent.  In such an event it will be free for the State Authority to effectively disengage the Director, CBI from functioning by adopting various modes, known and unknown, which may not amount to transfer but would still have the same effect as a transfer from one post to another, namely, cessation of exercise of powers and functions of the earlier post.   This is clearly not what the legislature could have intended.”

The Court hence, set aside the 3 impugned orders in question and directed that the matter be considered by the Committee under Section 4A(1) of the DSPE Act, 1946 which may be so done at the earliest and, in any case, within a week from the date of this order. Till then reinstated CBI director Alok Verma will cease and desist from taking any major policy decisions.

The aforementioned impugned orders dated October 23, 2018 came after there arose a dispute between Alok Verma and the CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana who accused each other of corruption and the feud became public.[Alok Verma v. Union of India, WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.1309 OF 2018, decided on 04.01.2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of CJ Ranjan Gogoi and S.K. Kaul and K.M. Joseph, JJ. proceeded with the matter regarding CBI Director Alok Verma and his deputy Special Director Rakesh Asthana in the alleged corruption charges, pursuant to Supreme Court’s order in Alok Kumar Verma v. Union of India, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 2249 in which CVC was directed to file its enquiry report under the supervision of the retired judge of the Supreme Court of India, Justice A.K. Patnaik.

The Bench in the present matter on perusal of the CVC enquiry report stated that a copy of the same should be furnished to the petitioner i.e. Alok Verma in order to preserve and maintain the sanctity of the institution of the CBI and public confidence in the said institution.

Further, the report has been asked to be furnished to the office of Attorney General for India and learned Solicitor General of India representing CVC.

Learned Senior Counsel F.S. Nariman submitted on behalf of Alok Verma that he will be ready with the response to the report of CVC by 19-11-2018. The said response has to be submitted to Secretary-General of this Court on 19-11-2018.

The matter is further listed for consideration on 20-11-2018. [Alok Verma v. Union of India,2018 SCC OnLine SC 2454, Order dated 16-11-2018]

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Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of CJ Ranjan Gogoi and S.K.Kaul, J. addressed the progress in the matter regarding CBI Director Alok Verma and his deputy Special Director Rakesh Asthana in the alleged corruption charges.

The CVC filed its enquiry report of CBI Alok Verma in a sealed cover in the Supreme Court. Interim CBI Director M. Nageswara Rao also filed report on decisions taken by him for the period of 23-10-2018 to 26-10-2018.

Further, it was observed by the Supreme Court that, Registry was open on Sunday but no intimation in that regard was made for the filing of the report, for which Solicitor General Tushar Mehta apologised.

Background:

 Interim directions by the Supreme Court were as follows:

  • Enquiry in regard to the allegations made against the present Director, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Alok Verma shall be completed by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) within a period of two weeks.
  • The stated enquiry will be conducted under the supervision of the retired judge of the Supreme Court of India, Justice A.K. Patnaik.
  • M. Nageswara Rao who has been entrusted with the task of looking after the duties of the Director of the CBI shall not take any policy decisions or any major decisions and will perform the routine tasks that are essential to keep the functionality of CBI.

The matter will be considered on Friday, i.e. 16-11-2018. [Common Cause v. Union of India,2018 SCC OnLine SC 2423, Order dated 12-11-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of CJ Ranjan Gogoi and Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K.M. Joseph, JJ., laid down some interim arrangement in order to govern the present situation.

Background:

The Central Government divested the CBI Director Alok Verma and his deputy Special Director Rakesh Asthana of all their powers and sent them on leave pending enquiry against them in the alleged corruption charges.

The decision was taken on the recommendation of the Central Vigilance Commission which stated that Alok Verma was not cooperating in inquiry in the allegations of corruption and criminal misconduct levelled against him by Rakesh Asthana and it would be only fair to take both off duty till the charges are probed. Furthermore, M. Nageswara Rao, a 1986 Odisha cadre IPS officer who joined the CBI in 2016 was appointed as interim Director of India’s premier investigating the agency.

Alok Verma has approached the Supreme Court against the order of the Central Government that stripped him off his powers and sent him on forced leave.

The interim directions by the court are as follows:

  • Enquiry in regard to the allegations made against the present Director, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Alok Verma shall be completed by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) within a period of two weeks.
  • The stated enquiry will be conducted under the supervision of the retired judge of the Supreme Court of India, Justice A.K. Patnaik.
  • M. Nageswara Rao who has been entrusted with the task of looking after the duties of the Director of the CBI shall not take any policy decisions or any major decisions and will perform the routine tasks that are essential to keep the functionality of CBI.

Further, the Supreme Court made it clear that the supervision of on-going enquiry by the CVC to a former judge is an exception being taken due to the necessity being felt on considering the facts of the present case.

The matter has been listed immediately after the Diwali holidays i.e. on 12-11-2018. Alok Verma is represented by veteran advocate Fali S. Nariman, while Attorney General K.K. Venugopal is appearing for the Central Government. [Alok Kumar Verma v. Union of India,2018 SCC OnLine SC 2249, Order dated 26-10-2018]

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Amidst the unprecedented tussle between the top two officers of the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Central Government divested the CBI Director Alok Verma and his deputy Special Director Rakesh Asthana of all their powers and sent them on leave pending enquiry against them in the alleged corruption charges.

The decision was taken on the recommendation of the Central Vigilance Commission which stated that Alok Verma was not cooperating in inquiry in the allegations of corruption and criminal misconduct levelled against him by Rakesh Asthana and it would be only fair to take both off duty till the charges are probed. Furthermore, M. Nageswara Rao, a 1986 Odisha cadre IPS officer who joined the CBI in 2016 was appointed as interim Director of India’s premier investigating agency.

Rakesh Asthana had complained of corruption against the CBI Director. Per contra, the Bureau filed a case under Prevention of Corruption Act, 1968 against its own Special Director Rakesh Asthana and his deputy DSP Devender Kumar. Asthana had approached the Delhi High Court challenging the FIR filed against him in the said bribery case. The Court while ordering the status quo has posted the matter for next hearing on October 29. The matter relates to a case involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi, which was headed by Asthana, while Kumar was its chief investigating officer. The CBI has accused the duo of forgery in recording the statement of Satish Sana, another accused in the case.

Alok Verma has approached the Supreme Court against the order of the Central Government that stripped him off his powers and sent him on forced leave. The Supreme Court is likely to take up the matter today.