Catfight defence for CBI axe

The Supreme Court had asked the law officer what was the compelling need to strip Verma of his powers

By Our Legal Correspondent in New Delhi
  • Published 6.12.18, 3:01 AM
  • Updated 6.12.18, 3:01 AM
  • a min read
  •  
Alok Verma: the benched CBI director The Telegraph file picture

The Centre on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that benched CBI director Alok Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana were fighting like the mythical Kilkenny cats and that the media was having a “field day” giving wide coverage to it.

The government said this had prompted it to divest the two officers of their powers, otherwise “only God knows” what would have happened. The two Kilkenny cats had died during a ferocious fight with each other and kept devouring each other till only their tails were left.

Appearing for the Centre, attorney-general K.K. Venugopal told a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi that the government had acted in good faith to restore the credibility of the CBI, whose image was getting “eroded” because of the tussle between Verma and Asthana.

“The two topmost officers were fighting and going into public. Everyday TV and newspapers were having a field day, exposing the premier institution to ridicule,” Venugopal said, placing before the court copies of The Telegraph and certain other publications that have reported the developments in the CBI since July.

The court had asked the law officer what was the compelling need to strip Verma of his powers.

“The government was compelled to interfere though it could have taken a decision in July itself. The government was watching with amazement. They (the two officers) were fighting like Kilkenny cats. This has affected the government and the image of the institution,” the attorney-general said.

“It (the CBI) is being ridiculed because of the actions of the two officers. We at the government looked at the totality of the issue. Their action brought disgrace to the nation,” Venugopal added.

He went on: “So far as the central government is concerned, it acted within its jurisdiction. God alone knows when and how the fight between the two officers would have ended. Therefore it was absolutely essential that he (Verma) is totally immobilised of all functions, including supervisory role as director of CBI.”

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