New Delhi: A furious Supreme Court on Tuesday told all parties in a case involving the CBI’s top brass that they do not “deserve” a hearing in the light of the leaks to the media in the highly-sensitive case centered around the probe agency chief and his deputy levelling corruption charges against each other.
The court’s anger stemmed from a news website carrying details of a reply filed by CBI chief Alok Verma and other media reports based on sensational allegations by the probe agency’s senior officer M.K. Sinha against top officials in his petition filed in court.
Making it clear that the court was not a “platform” where people can come and express “whatever they want”, an anguished bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, heard the matter twice during the day and said it would not hear any party, including the Central Vigilance Commission, and confine itself to the purported leak and publication of Mr Sinha’s allegations.
The bench, also comprising justices S.K. Kaul and K.M. Joseph, vented its ire at the start of the hearing over the leak of documents related to the case and said that it wanted to keep the CBI director’s response confidential to maintain the probe agency’s dignity.
The CJI handed over a copy of a media report and said, “You being a senior member, we have given this to you. Please help us.”
After a quick look at the documents, a shocked Mr Nariman said, “How did this leak come out? We don’t know.”
Mr Nariman added that the “leak” was totally “unauthorised” and he was very “disturbed and shocked” by it. After giving the copy of the news report to Mr Nariman, the Supreme Court bench adjourned the hearing till November 29 on the plea filed by Mr Verma.
He has challenged the Centre’s decision to divest him of duties and sending him on forced leave, saying, “We do not think any of you deserve any hearing.”
In a sudden turn of events, Mr Nariman re-entered the courtroom after a few minutes told the bench that the news article in question was published by the portal on November 17 on the basis of Mr Verma’s reply given to the CVC during the preliminary enquiry proceedings and had nothing to do with the CBI chief’s reply filed in sealed envelop in court on Monday.
The bench also referred to Mr Nariman news articles on the allegations levelled by Mr Sinha, who is CBI’s DIG, in his separate plea challenging his transfer to Nagpur.
“Yesterday, we had refused the mentioning (seeking urgent listing of Mr Sinha’s plea) and we had expressed that highest degree of confidentiality was to be maintained. But here is a litigant who mentions it before us and then goes out to distribute the petition to everyone,” a miffed CJI said.
“Our efforts to maintain the respect of this institution are not shared by these people. They are giving it to everybody,” he added.
“This is yesterday’s article. We want to know what is going on. This court is not a platform for people to come and express whatever they want. This is a place where people come for adjudication of their legal rights. This is not a platform and we will set it right,” the court said.
Mr Sinha on Monday dragged the names of NSA Ajit Doval, Union minister Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary and CVC K.V. Chowdhury into the controversy over alleged attempts to interfere in the probe against CBI special director Rakesh Asthana, who has also been divested of his duties and sent on leave by the government along with Mr Verma.
Mr Chowdhury did not respond to queries when his reaction was sought while Mr Doval was not immediately available for comments. The Union minister termed the allegations as baseless and malicious....