The Supreme Court sets aside Centre's order and reinstates Alok Verma as CBI chief
New Delhi: Alok Verma was reinstated as the CBI chief by the Supreme Court today. The top court's verdict gave a jolt to the Centre and the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) by setting aside their orders divesting Mr Verma of his powers and sending him on leave on October 23. The court, however, said that Mr Verma cannot take any major policy decisions. Mr Verma has also been asked to respond to the CVC inquiry on corruption allegations in a sealed envelope. Here are the top 10 facts about the CBI vs CBI controversy:
- The Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) was asked to step in as the infighting between the top two officers of the CBI spilled over in public domain. The CBI told the CVC that its No.2, Rakesh Asthana, was facing probe in six cases of corruption and the probe agency filed a First Investigation Report (FIR) against him and two others over bribery allegations.
- Mr Asthana moved court seeking the dismissal of the FIR against him and petitioned the court to restrain the CBI from taking any coercive action against him. The High Court sought a response from the CBI and Mr Verma on October 22.
- Within hours, in a midnight 'coup', the government, on the advise of the CVC, divested Mr Verma of all his duties and sent him on forced leave. M Nageswara Rao was made the interim CBI chief. A day later a non-profit group filed a plea in Supreme Court, seeking the setting up of a Special Investigative Team, to probe into allegations of corruption against CBI officials including Mr Asthana.
- After an urgent hearing, the top court directed the CVC to complete the inquiry into complaints against Mr Verma within two weeks. The court also sought the response of the CVC and the Centre on Mr Verma's plea challenging the government order sending him on leave.
- The court directed interim chief Mr Rao not to take any major policy decisions and asked for the list of steps taken by him in a sealed cover.
- Challenging his removal, Mr Verma told the top court that he was sent on leave when "certain investigations into high functionaries did not take the direction that may be desirable to the government".
- The government told the Supreme Court that the decision was taken after the top two CBI officers' feud had become public and it was necessary to restore the integrity of the investigating body.
- The opposition alleged that Mr Verma was sent on leave because he was weighing an inquiry into India's purchase in 2015 of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.
- The Supreme Court today set aside the Centre's decision divesting CBI Director Alok Verma of his powers and sending him on leave. Reinstating Mr Verma, the top court said that any further decision against Mr Verma would be taken by the high-powered committee, which selects and appoints the CBI Director.
- The Supreme Court, while hearing the case questioned the government's haste in removing Mr Verma without consulting a selection committee as is the rule. "If you had tolerated since July, it is not something that required immediate action as the circumstances were culminating for long time."