SC reinstates Alok Verma as CBI chief sans power

Alok Verma's two-year tenure as CBI director ends on January 31.

New Delhi: In a jolt to the Centre and the CVC, the Supreme Court on Tuesday reinstated CBI director Alok Verma, three months after the government divested him of his powers and sent him on forced leave, saying that the statute empowers neither the state nor the Central Vigilance Commission to tamper with the tenure of the CBI chief.

Mr Verma’s two-year tenure as CBI director ends on January 31.

The apex court, while setting aside the government order, ruled that Mr Verma can resume his role as the CBI chief but cannot take any major policy decision till the high-powered committee that selects and appoints the CBI director takes a decision on the matter.

The court said, “Within a week, the selection committee, led by the PM, will meet and look into the aspect of whether Mr Verma needs to be removed or not.”

The selection committee comprises the Prime Minister, the Leader of Opposition and the Chief Justice of India.

While setting aside the dramatic “overnight” divestment of Mr Verma’s powers as CBI director on the intervening night of October 23-24, a three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, stressed that the head of the premier probe agency has to be a role model of independence and integrity which is possible only if there is no interference.

The court clarified that only the selection committee is authorised to endorse any form of interference in the institution that is called for in public interest.

“The transfer of the director without the consent of the selection committee negates the legislative intent that is to ensure independence of the CBI,” said the bench, including Justices S.K. Kaul and K.M. Joseph.

The government had claimed that it took this decision to protect the integrity of the CBI and acted on the recommendation of the CVC that was looking into a corruption complaint against Mr Verma.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley said the government would abide by the apex court order and defended the decision to intervene in the “CBI versus CBI” feud.

“The government took this decision to protect the integrity of the CBI… government took the action of sending two senior officers of CBI on leave on CVC’s recommendation,” he said.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle with agency inputs )
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