The Supreme Court on Wednesday will listen to the plea filed by CBI Director Alok Verma challenging the government’s order divesting him from his duties and sending him on leave in the eye of graft allegations against him. Verma and his deputy, CBI special director Rakesh Asthana, were sent on leave by the Centre after a feud among the two spilled into the open, with both leveling critical accusations of corruption against each other.
A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph will oversee the hearings in the issue.
In last week’s hearing, Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, had stated the central government had the authority to appoint the CBI chief. He was answering to senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, appearing for Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, who stated that the power to remove CBI chief rested with a selection committee comprising of the Prime Minister as the chairperson, the Chief Justice of India and the Leader of Opposition.
Verma stated the government’s October 23 decision to divest him of responsibilities amounted to a transfer. Verma’s lawyer Fali S Nariman told the bench that there was no basis for the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to pass an order recommending to send him on leave.
Nariman also said that the CVC Act made it clear that the Director cannot be transferred without the approval of the committee.
The bench, meanwhile, made it transparent it was not going into allegations and counter-allegations at this stage and would only look into the question of law on whether the government had the power to initiate action.