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SC hearing on CBI's Alok Verma petition updates: Govt can't imprison truth, protests exposed PM, says Rahul Gandhi

Supreme Court hearing in CBI Director Alok Verma's petition LIVE updates: Rahul Gandhi was released from the Lodhi Colony Police Station soon after his detention. Coming out of the station, Congress chief said that the prime minister cannot flee from the truth. Prime Minister Narendra Modi panicked and the current CBI unrest is due to that, Rahul told reporters outside the police station.

FP Staff October 26, 2018 16:13:47 IST
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SC hearing on CBI's Alok Verma petition updates: Govt can't imprison truth, protests exposed PM, says Rahul Gandhi

Highlights

10:16 (ist)

CVC cannot curtail CBI chief’s tenure, selection panel's nod important to touch agency's director 

The Supreme Court will examine today that whether the government and the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) were right in unilaterally forcing the CBI Director on leave, even if they acted under the assumption that the move will restore public faith in the country’s premier investigative agency. 

However, according to a report in The Hindulegal experts opine that the CBI director cannot be transfered or stripped of his powers unilaterally by the CVC. 

Legal experts refer to Section 4B(2) of the DSPE Act, which mandates that the CBI Director cannot be “transferred” without the previous consent of a high-power committee chaired by the Prime Minister. They say that since the CBI Director is appointed on the recommendation of this committee which has the Leader of the Opposition and the Chief Justice of India as members. Relieving the CBI chief of his post would, as a natural corollary, require taking the consent of this committee.

10:04 (ist)

CBI reiterating that Alok Verma remains its chief may tilt scales against him in SC today

According to a report in NewslaundryCBI's recent statement, reiterating that both Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana continue to hold their posts seems to have dampened Verma's arguments challenging government's decision to send him on leave. 

"Given this last-minute unprecedented development, Verma’s petition challenging the government decision to take away his powers and send him on forced leave sounds paradoxical; how can a petition be heard against the government for removing the CBI chief when the CBI itself has come out on the front-foot and announced that Alok Verma will still be heading the country’s central investigating agency?," the report argues. 

09:25 (ist)

Latest CBI purge may hit extradition pleas pending in international courts

Even as the Centre tried to justify its move to shake things up in the CBI in its “fight against corruption”, there seem to be worries over its impact in international courts where India is seeking extradition of economic fugitives, including Mehul Choksi, Nirav Modi and Vijay Malaya. 

The Tribune reported that there are speculations that lawyers could use the government’s action against CBI Director Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana in response to charges of corruption against each other as a proof of “state of affairs in the agency” to make cases of these economic offenders stronger.

09:16 (ist)

Alok Verma still chief, says CBI day before top court hears his petition

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday said Alok Verma, who has been divested of his powers, will remain its director and the agency's number two Rakesh Asthana will continue as the special director, while M Nageshwar Rao has been given interim charge of the agency. 

"Alok Verma continues to remain the Director of the CBI, Rakesh Asthana remains as Special Director and M Nageshwar Rao is looking after duties and functions of the Director in the interim period till the time CVC looks into allegations and counter allegations," the spokesperson told reporters. 

08:27 (ist)

CBI's last minute manoeuvre to counter exiled chief Alok Verma in Supreme Court today

CBI, meanwhile, seems to have pulled off a move thereby which Alok Verma's plea in Supreme Court might not hold water in the courtroom. On Thursday, CBI announced that Verma - irrespective of the fact that he has been stripped off his powers and been sent on forced leave since 23 October - will still retain the position of Director in the CBI.  At the same time, his deputy Rakesh Asthana, who was also sent on leave along with his boss, would retain his post of Special Director.

As Newslaundry pointed out, "given this last-minute unprecedented development, Verma’s petition challenging the government decision to take away his powers and send him on forced leave sounds paradoxical; how can a petition be heard against the government for removing the CBI chief when the CBI itself has come out on the front-foot and announced that Alok Verma will still be heading the country’s central investigating agency?"

08:10 (ist)

Rakesh Asthana stymied investigation in sensitive cases, Alok Verma tells Supreme Court

Alok Verma has alleged in his petition in Supreme Court that Special Director Rakesh Asthana stymied decisions which were crucial to the investigation of certain cases. In his petition, Verma has alleged that Asthana had concocted evidence to “impugn his reputation”, whereupon an FIR was registered against the latter,  After Asthana had challenged the same in Delhi High Court yesterday, a few hours later, a decision was taken by the central government to send Verma on leave.

LIVE NEWS and UPDATES

Oct 26, 2018 - 16:46 (IST)

Congress leaders protest in Guwahati

Activists and leaders of Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) staged a dharna outside the CBI office in Guwahati, as part of the party's nationwide protest.

Slamming Prime Minister Narendra Modi for allegedly "degrading the autonomy of the nation's top investigating agency", APCC president Ripun Bora, who led the demonstrators, said Verma was divested of powers to "stifle probe into allegations of corruption in Rafale jet deal".

"We are protesting against Modi's disgraceful attempt to prevent an investigation into the Rafale scam by removing CBI chief Alok Verma," he said. — PTI

Oct 26, 2018 - 16:17 (IST)

8 leaders, 150 workers detained for 20 minutes: DCP South

"Eight leaders and 150 workers were detained for 20 minutes and then released," ANI quoted DCP South Vijay Kumar as saying on the Congress protests outside the CBI headquarters in New Delhi.

Oct 26, 2018 - 16:11 (IST)

Government won't be able to imprison truth: Rahul Gandhi

Oct 26, 2018 - 16:09 (IST)

Karnataka Congress members protest outside CBI office in Bengaluru

Karnataka Congress workers staged a protest in front of the CBI office in Bengaluru following the party's call for a nationwide agitation.

However, MLAs and corporators did not take part in the protest in the city, though the party high command had directed legislators to participate in the agitation.

The only prominent face was party's national general secretary and Karnataka in-charge KC Venugopal.

Karnataka is ruled by the Congress-JD(S) coalition.

Defending the absence of senior party functionaries, Congress spokesperson Subhash Agarwal told PTI the agitation was only symbolic and hence, the presence of MLAs and corporators did not matter much. — PTI

Oct 26, 2018 - 15:53 (IST)

Tarun Gogoi joins protest

Former Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi joins the protest outside the CBI offices in Guwahati.

Image sourced by Pranjal Baruah/101Reporters

Oct 26, 2018 - 15:35 (IST)

FirstCut By Manjul Toons

Oct 26, 2018 - 15:27 (IST)

Cong activists demonstrate outside CBI office in Odisha

Hundreds of Congress activists and leaders staged a demonstration outside CBI office here on Friday, as part of the party's nationwide protest against the decision of the Centre to send the probe agency's director, Alok Verma, on leave. 

The demonstrators, led by Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee President Niranjan Patnaik, raised slogans against the Centre, alleging that Verma was sent on leave to stall investigation into charges of "corruption" in Rafale jet deal. 

Oct 26, 2018 - 15:14 (IST)

We are not protesting against CBI, we are protesting against Narendra Modi's interference: Anand Sharma

Speaking to reporters outside the Lodhi Colony police station, senior Congress leaders like Ashok Gehlot and Anand Sharma said that it should be clear that the protests are being held against Narendra Modi's interference in key institutes in India.

Oct 26, 2018 - 15:01 (IST)

PM can run and hide but at the end truth will be revealed: Rahul Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi was released from the Lodhi Colony Police Station soon after his detention. Coming out of the station, Congress chief said that the prime minister cannot flee from the truth. Prime Minister Narendra Modi panicked and the current CBI unrest is due to that, Rahul told reporters outside the police station. "PM can run, he can hide but in the end, truth will be revealed. Removing CBI Director will not help. PM acted against CBI Director; it was an act out of panic," Rahul said. 

Oct 26, 2018 - 14:48 (IST)

Tamil Nadu: Congress leaders accuse Narendra Modi govt of disrupting Rafale investigation

Tamil Nadu Congress Committee leaders protested against the dismissal of CBI chief in front of Shashtri Bhavan in Nungambakkam, which hosts several union government offices. State unit head S Thirunavukkarasar headed the protest that was attended by former state chief Kumari Ananthan, Thangabalu and other Congress MLAs.

Thirunavukkarasar accused the Centre of removing Alok Verma to disrupt investigations into the Rafale deal. The move was made without consulting the opposition and disrespects the Supreme Court, he said. Modi has destroyed CBI's credibility, he added. The protestors were later arrested by the police.

Mydeen Abdul Kadar/101Reporters

Supreme Court hearing Alok Verma plea LATEST updates: Rahul Gandhi has tweeted saying that the government cannot imprison the truth.

Rahul Gandhi was released from the Lodhi Colony Police Station soon after his detention. Coming out of the station, Congress chief said that the prime minister cannot flee from the truth. Prime Minister Narendra Modi panicked and the current CBI unrest is due to that, Rahul told reporters outside the police station. "PM can run, he can hide but in the end, truth will be revealed. Removing CBI Director will not help. PM acted against CBI Director; it was an act out of panic," Rahul said.

As many as 50 Congress leaders, including, state chief Raj Babbar have been detained by the Uttar Pradesh police. They had earlier tried to storm the barricades.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi Friday courted arrest after staging a protest outside the CBI headquarters against the move to divest CBI Director Alok Verma of his powers and send him on leave. He has arrived at the Lodhi Colony Police Station in New Delhi along with a huge congregation of Congress supporters.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi and several top Congress leaders have courted arrest barely 200 metres from the CBI headquarters. Dramatic visuals played out in the high security area of national capital as Opposition protesters jostled with policemen and tried to breach the barricade.

A huge mob of protesters has gathered just 200 metres away from the CBI headquarters. A show-down of sorts seems to be developing between the cops and protesters in the heart of the national capital as some of the protesters are trying to break through the barricades set up by the police. The tension seems to be rising as the police waits for the protests to precipitate. Meanwhile, the mob too has refused to budge.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi led the party as it staged a protest march from Delhi's Dayal Singh college. The party is demanding reinstatement of CBI director Alok Verma, who has been sent on leave, and an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for "destroying" the image of the premier investigating agency.

The Supreme Court Friday sought a response from the CBI, the CVC and the Centre on agency Director Alok Kumar Verma's plea challenging the government's decision to divest him of his duties and send him on leave.

SC hearing on CBIs Alok Verma petition updates Govt cant imprison truth protests exposed PM says Rahul Gandhi

Congress-led Opposition protests in Delhi. Firstpost/Ravishankar Singh

Apart from limiting CBI's interim director from taking any policy decisions, the Supreme Court also ruled that all decisions taken by M Nageshwar Rao since 23 October should be submitted to the Supreme Court in a sealed envelop.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has ruled that the CBI interim chief Nageswara Rao will not take any decision on policy matter. CJI Ranjan Gogoi said that Rao may only undertake the agency's routine work in his capacity as interim chief, adding that the court can't allow this matter to prolong in the interest of country.

CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana has moved the Supreme Court challenging the order by the Central government to send him on leave, Bar and Bench reported.

CBI's recent statement, reiterating that both Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana continue to hold their posts seems to have dampened Verma's arguments challenging government's decision to send him on leave.

"Given this last-minute unprecedented development, Verma’s petition challenging the government decision to take away his powers and send him on forced leave sounds paradoxical; how can a petition be heard against the government for removing the CBI chief when the CBI itself has come out on the front-foot and announced that Alok Verma will still be heading the country’s central investigating agency?," the report argues

Former Attorney General and senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who is representing Special Director Rakesh Asthana, said: "It is just one more case. What is big about it? It is not as important as you think it is." 

Congress president Rahul Gandhi has urged people to join him in protesting against the prime minister's isgraceful and unconstitutional attempt' to block investigation into what he alleges is the Rafale scam. He will be leading the Congress party's march to the CBI headquarters from Lodhi road.

The security outside CBI headquarters in New Delhi has been beefed up ahead of the Congress-led protests. The Delhi Police has deployed additional forces and water canons for mob control. All the roads leading to the agency's headquarters have also been blocked, India Today reported.

The Trinamool Congress has decided to join the Congress-led protests outside all CBI offices today. Party chief Mamata Banerjee said that the CBI has unfortunately turned into BBI (BJP Bureau of Investigation) and announced that the party will support the protests against government's bid to destroy the institution of India's highest investigative agency.

TrinaA three-judge bench consisting of Chief Justice of Indian Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph is set to hear a petition filed by CBI Director Alok Kumar Verma challenging order of the CVC divesting him of the functions, duties and powers of CBI director. The same bench will also hear PIL filed by an NGO Common Cause through advocate Prashant Bhushan, challenging the legality pf government order sidelining the CBI chief.

According to latest reports, senior advocate Fali S Nariman will represent CBI director Alok Verma in court, meanwhile, the CVC will be represented by Solicitor General of India, Tushar Mehta. Advocates Mukul Rohtagi and Amrendra Sharan are appearing for Special Director of CBI, Rakesh Asthana.

Leader of the Congress party in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge has demanded answers from Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the action against CBI director Alok Verma without consulting other members of the panel that selected him.

In a strongly-worded letter to the prime minister, Kharge accused him of acting "arbitrarily" and creating a "false equivalence of charges" between the CBI director and his deputy Rakesh Asthana.

Kharge was part of a three-member panel headed by Modi that had selected Verma last year to head the CBI. The then Chief Justice of India Jagdish Singh Khehar was the other member of the selection committee.

CBI, meanwhile, seems to have pulled off a move thereby which Alok Verma's plea in Supreme Court might not hold water in the courtroom. On Thursday, CBI announced that Verma - irrespective of the fact that he has been stripped off his powers and been sent on forced leave since 23 October - will still retain the position of Director in the CBI. At the same time, his deputy Rakesh Asthana, who was also sent on leave along with his boss, would retain his post of Special Director.

As reports pointed out, "given this last-minute unprecedented development, Verma’s petition challenging the government decision to take away his powers and send him on forced leave sounds paradoxical; how can a petition be heard against the government for removing the CBI chief when the CBI itself has come out on the front-foot and announced that Alok Verma will still be heading the country’s central investigating agency?"

As the CBI deals with an unprecedented internal crisis, all eyes are on the Supreme Court on Friday when its Director Alok Verma's plea against the Centre's order divesting him of duties and sending him on leave is slated to come up, amid high drama Thursday over the presence of Intelligence Bureau officers outside his official residence in New Delhi.

Ahead of the hearing in the apex court, the CBI clarified Verma and Rakesh Asthana, who are locked in a bitter feud that triggered the crisis, will remain its Director and Special Director, in a bid to stress they were not removed from their posts. Both Verma and Astana were stripped of their powers and sent on leave by the Centre on the intervening night of Wednesday and Thursday.

The statement by a CBI spokesman in which it was also said appointment of Joint Director M Nageshwar Rao to discharge the duties of the agency director was only an interim arrangement came amid an escalating attack by Congress president Rahul Gandhi on the Modi government over the crisis in the country's premier probe agency.

The spokesman said the arrangement will continue until the Central Vigilance Commission(CVC) decides on its probe into graft allegations against the CBI's top two officers.

Addressing a poll rally in Rajasthan and a news conference later in Delhi, Gandhi said forcing Verma to go on indefinite leave was "illegal" and alleged it was done as the government "panicked" over the possibility of him investigating the controversial Rafale jet deal.

Senior BJP leader Prakash Javadekar rejected as "manufactured lie" Gandhi's charge that government panicked over the possibility of him investigating the Rafale deal.

At a news conference, the union minister also emphatically said that the CBI chief was not removed and only sent on leave.

In a veiled reference to Nageswara Rao, Gandhi also alleged that the interim charge of the agency has been given to a person who has cases against him so that the prime minister can control him.

In a related development, the Supreme Court said it would consider according urgent hearing to a PIL seeking court-monitored SIT probe into the allegations of corruption against various CBI officials, including Asthana.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi considered the submission of lawyer Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO 'Common Cause' that there were wider issues of corruption affecting the probe agency and the PIL needed to be heard urgently.

In his legal challenge before the apex court, Verma also sought stay of the Centre's order asking him to proceed on leave and giving interim charge of his post to Rao, a 1986 batch Odisha-cadre IPS officer.

Verma's petition is listed for hearing before a bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph. It will come up along with the petition filed by 'Common Cause'.

The CBI chief 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.

A row also broke out after four men belonging to the Intelligence Bureau(IB) were picked up outside Verma's official residence.

While Home Ministry officials said the four men were on "routine, covert" duties in the high security area outside Verma's 2 Janpath residence, sources said they were taken away by police and questioned.

The IB is entrusted with the responsibility of collecting intelligence on situations that may affect public order and internal security. Among other things, its units are "routinely" deployed in "sensitive areas", a Home Ministry official said.

At times, this is done in association with local law enforcement agencies, and at other times, a surprise element is built in, he added.

This also enables law enforcement agencies to respond immediately to developing situations. The officials carry their identity cards since they are on "routine duties", he explained.

"This is unlike surveillance, which is done without any visible appurtenances. One unit, in the early hours of today, halted at Janpath where there was an unusual collection of people," the official said.

This was with a view to check why people had collected at the location.

"This is a high security zone where several protectees reside. Unfortunately, their presence was projected otherwise," another official said.

Though police sources said the men were being interrogated, Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) Madhur Verma denied that police detained and questioned them.

The CBI which refused to comment on the question about the status of Verma and Asthana Wednesday issued a clarification saying, "Alok Verma continues to remain Director of CBI, Asthana remains Special Director."

"M Nageswar Rao is looking after duties and functions of the Director in the interim period till the time CVC looks into allegations and counter allegations," CBI Spokesperson said in a statement

The CBI also rubbished as false a news report that files related to several crucial cases, including that of the Rafale fighter aircraft deal, was under the consideration of Verma when he was divested of his powers by the Centre in a midnight order.

“This is being manufactured by vested interests. Every file in the CBI at each level is accounted for,” he added.x

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