CBI vs CBI: SC orders MN Rao not to take policy decisions, gives CVC 2 weeks to complete inquiry against Alok Verma

The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to complete its enquiry against sidelined CBI director Alok Verma in two weeks and asked interim director M Nageswara Rao to refrain from taking any policy decisions.

"Decisions taken by Rao from 23 October till date shall not be implemented," the court said. A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi also ordered the CBI to place before the apex court all decisions taken by Rao in a sealed cover on 12 November, the next date of hearing.

The top court said that former Supreme Court judge A K Patnaik will oversee the CVC inquiry into allegations against Verma and the report has to be placed before it within two weeks, noting that the matter is of national importance and there should not be any delay.

File image of Supreme Court of India. PTI

File image of Supreme Court of India. PTI

During the hearing, the bench of CJI Gogoi and Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph had said, "We want to see preliminary probe report in 10 days to decide whether it requires further probe."

The CVC had submitted that 10 days for the inquiry was not sufficient as it has to look into several documents. The CVC has also said that for the time being, no monitoring by anyone else should be allowed. Though the court granted two weeks time to the CVC to complete the inquiry, it turned down the request for probe without any monitoring.

"The retired judge (Justice Patnaik) will supervise the CVC inquiry against Verma because of the importance of the case without casting aspersions on any constitutional or statutory authority," the apex court said.

The Supreme Court also issued notices on the petition filed by an NGO, Common Cause, which has sought a Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe against CBI officers including off-duty Special Director Rakesh Asthana.

On the NGO's petition, the apex court also issued notices to the CBI, Centre, CVC, Verma, Asthana and Rao. Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Asthana, said he has also filed a petition in the matter. The bench told Rohatgi that since his petition is not before it, the court would not hear him at this stage.

To this, Rohatgi said Asthana has also been made a respondent in the petition filed by the NGO. Verma and Asthana have made allegations of corruption against each other.

CJI Gogoi observed that at the present stage, an inquiry would be held to find out whether there is a prima facie case, reported Bar and Bench.

Verma and Asthana have made allegations of corruption against each other. During the brief hearing on Friday, senior advocate FS Nariman advanced arguments on behalf of Verma. He submitted that the sidelined CBI director was appointed with the approval of a selection panel having the prime minister, the leader of Opposition and the Chief Justice of India.

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Nariman referred to the CVC and Centre's orders divesting Verma of his duty. He also cited the Vineet Narain judgment to support Verma's pleas.

Verma has sought a stay of the Centre's order asking him to proceed on leave and giving the interim charge of his post to Rao, a 1986 batch Odisha-cadre IPS officer. The CBI chief in his plea, contended that the decision taken "overnight" by the Centre and the CVC to divest him of his role as the head of the probe agency was "patently illegal" and such interference "erodes" the independence and autonomy of the institution.

"Over the recent past, although all functionaries within the CBI from the investigating officer and the superintending officers up to the Joint Director and the Director have agreed on a certain course of action, the Special Director has been of a different view," the plea submitted

Accusing the government of interfering into investigations, Verma has said there was a need for an independent probe agency as there were bound to be occasions when certain investigations into high functionaries do not take the direction that may be desirable to the government. He has assailed the decision of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) giving Rao, the charge as head of the probe agency.

The feud between Verma and Asthana escalated recently leading to registration of an FIR against Asthana and others including Deputy Superintendent of Police Devender Kumar, who is in the CBI custody in an alleged bribery case.

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With inputs from PTI


Updated Date: Oct 26, 2018 15:29 PM

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