New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director Alok Verma petition, challenging the decision of the Centre to divest him of his duties and sending him on leave, will be heard by the Supreme Court today.
Verma has also sought stay of the Centre's order asking him to proceed on leave and giving the interim charge of his post to Joint Director M Nageswara Rao, a 1986 batch Odisha-cadre IPS officer.
In his petition, Verma, who took the government to court, said 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.
The bench will also hear another plea by non-profit Common Cause, which has sought for a Special Investigative Team (SIT) probe into corruption allegations against some CBI officials, including Rakesh Asthana.
Here’s all you need to know about this big story:
- A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph will hear the petition filed by Alok Verma, who was asked to go on leave by the government when his feud with his deputy Rakesh Asthana came into fore, with each accusing the other of bribery. Asthana was also told to go on leave and N Nageswara Rao was appointed interim chief on Wednesday.
- Senior jurist Fali Nariman will represent Alok Verma in the apex court while Attorney General KK Venugopal will represent the Centre, and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta will appear for the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC).
- Alok Verma has challenged the government order on the grounds that a 1998 verdict by the Supreme Court stipulated that the CBI Director should have a fixed minimum tenure of two years. His petition also stated that his deputy Rakesh Asthana "concocted evidence" against him to accuse him of corruption.
- The CBI on Thursday said both Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana will retain their position in the agency. M Nageswara Rao will remain interim till the Central Vigilance Commission examines the allegations the two officials traded.
- CBI’s announcement came after the Congress accused the government of violating "the law, the Supreme Court's clear directions on the subject and the Constitution of India". The Congress said the CBI chief can't be removed without the approval of the Chief Justice of India and the Leader of the Opposition in parliament.
- The Congress plans to protest outside the CBI headquarters today to raise the issue of the investigation agency's "slumping" credibility. Party president Rahul Gandhi tweeted that he would lead the protest.
- The main anti-corruption body, CVC denied Congress allegations that it does not have powers to take action against the CBI chief, saying the CBI Act gives it the power of superintending the investigative agency.
- The feud between Alok Verma and Rakesh 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. The FIR was lodged on a written complaint of Satish Babu Sana on October 15. It alleged that Kumar, the IO in a case, was repeatedly calling him to the CBI office to harass and compel him to pay bribe of Rs 5 crore for giving him clean chit.
- Rakesh Asthana and Alok Kumar both challenged the FIR in the Delhi High Court, which on Tuesday ordered CBI to maintain status quo on the criminal proceedings against Asthana. The Centre, the CVC and the DoPT intervened and decided to send the CBI Director and the Special Director on leave.