Supreme Court of India. File Photo
Supreme Court of India. File Photo

CBI vs CBI: SC questions govt action against Verma in CBI row

Verma was sent on leave on 24 October and M. Nageswara Rao, a joint director of the CBI, appointed the interim chief

New Delhi: The Supreme Court (SC) pulled up the centre on Thursday, demanding to know why it did not consult the selection committee before passing its order divesting Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director Alok Verma of his powers.

Verma was sent on leave on 24 October and M. Nageswara Rao, a joint director of the CBI, appointed the interim chief.

“What is the difficulty in consulting the selection committee? Why not be completely fair? It is better to consult the committee than not to consult," the court said.

Tushar Mehta, counsel for the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), told the court that the government’s decision was to be seen as an interim order to protect the institution and not doing anything in such circumstances would have amounted to dereliction of duty on the CVC’s part. After hearing all the parties, the three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi reserved its judgement on the validity of the government’s decision to divest Verma of his authority.

The government’s decision was opposed by Verma's lawyer and eminent jurist Fali Nariman, who relied on a 1997 judgement (Vineet Narain vs Union of India) that laid down the guidelines on the functioning of the CVC and the CBI. The apex court was hearing a batch of petitions, including one by the Prashant Bhushan-led NGO Common Cause, challenging the government order.

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