Alok Verma has cited a 1998 verdict stipulating a fixed minimum tenure of two years for the CBI chief.
New Delhi: Central Bureau of Investigation chief Alok Verma's petition, challenging the government's decision to strip him of his powers, will be heard by the Supreme Court today. In his petition, Mr Verma, who took the government to court after its midnight action of Tuesday, said the autonomy of the country's premier investigating agency is being compromised as certain investigations into high functionaries "do not take the direction desirable to the government". The bench will also hear another plea by non-profit Common Cause, which asks for a Special Investigative Team probe into corruption allegations against some CBI officials, including Mr Asthana. Here's your 10-point cheat-sheet to this big story:
- A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph will hear the petition of Alok Verma, who was stripped of his powers when his feud with his deputy Rakesh Asthana came into the open, with each accusing the other of bribery. Mr Asthana was also told to go on leave and M Nageswar Rao was appointed interim chief.
- Mr 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 says Mr Asthana "concocted evidence" against him to accuse him of corruption.
- The CBI today said both Mr Verma and Mr Asthana will retain their position in the agency. Mr Rao will remain interim chief till the main anti-corruption body, the Central Vigilance Commission, examines the allegations the two officials traded.
- The agency's announcement came as 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 party plans to stage a protest outside the CBI headquarters tomorrow to raise the issue of the investigation agency's "slumping" credibility. Congress chief Rahul Gandhi tweeted that he would lead the protest.
- The 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.
- Yesterday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said that the changes were an "interim measure"… to maintain the fairness of an impartial probe… it was necessary that the two seniormost officers involved must sit out on leave till an impartial investigation is complete".
- Addressing the opposition's questions about the "inaction" of the government while the battle between the CBI chief and his deputy was raging for two days, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said, "People are asking us why did you not intervene in time because of the anarchy in CBI, but we never interfere".
- On Thursday, four Intelligence Bureau officials found in the vicinity of Mr Verma's residence were detained by his security personnel and accused of snooping. As video footage of the incident went viral, the agency condemned the manner in which its personnel had been manhandled when they were only on "routine patrol".
- The feud between Mr Verma and Mr Asthana began after the CBI charged the latter with demanding a Rs 5-crore bribe from Satish Sana, a Hyderabad-based businessman, in return for keeping him out of a money-laundering case against meat exporter Moin Qureshi. In turn, the Gujarat-cadre officer — who is said to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah — accused his superior of several offences in a letter to the Union government.