Essence of Centre's action must be in interest of CBI: Supreme Court

The government told the court that sending Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana on leave was well 'within its rights'

By PTI in New Delhi
  • Published 6.12.18, 12:17 PM
  • Updated 6.12.18, 12:17 PM
  • a min read
  •  
Benched CBI director Alok Verma has denied in writing all the allegations his feuding deputy Rakesh Asthana has levelled against him. The Telegraph file picture

The Supreme Court, which is hearing CBI director Alok Verma's plea against the Centre's decision to divest him of powers and send him on leave, on Thursday said the essence of government action must be in the interest of the institution.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said Attorney General K.K. Venugopal has told the apex court that the circumstances culminating in the situation started in July.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Central Vigilance Commission, referred to Supreme Court judgments and laws governing the CBI.

The apex court said it was not as if the fight between the CBI director and special director Rakesh Asthana had emerged overnight, forcing the government to divest the director of powers without consulting the selection committee.

The CBI director and the special director were fighting like "kilkenny cats", exposing the country's premier investigating agency to "public ridicule", the government told the Supreme Court on Wednesday while justifying the decision to divest Verma of his duties.

Venugopal also told the top court that the government was well "within its right to intervene" and send both officers on leave by divesting them of their powers.

The top law officer asserted that "only God knows where and how this fight between the two top officers would have ended" had the government not taken the action aimed at restoring public faith in the CBI.

The court was hearing pleas of Verma, who is challenging the Centre's decision against him, and the NGO Common Cause, seeking a court-monitored SIT probe into allegations of corruption against various CBI officials, including Asthana. 

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