New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to conduct an inquiry into the allegations against CBI director Alok Verma under the supervision of retired Supreme Court judge A.K. Patnaik.
CBI vs CBI: SC orders CVC inquiry into allegations against Alok Verma
The inquiry has to be completed within two weeks.
The court also asked the serving joint director of CBI, Nageshwar Rao, to submit in a sealed cover a list of all decisions taken by him between 23 October and today, including those concerning transfers and change of investigating officers.
Rao has also been asked to not take any policy decisions or major decisions and perform routine tasks essential to keep the CBI functioning.
“We will examine the matter,” said Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and issued notice to the Centre on both the petitions.
The court was hearing two petitions, one by Verma and another by NGO Common Cause challenging the government order sending the former on forced leave.
Senior advocate Fali Nariman, appearing for Verma, relied on a 1997 judgment that laid down the guidelines on the functioning of the CVC and the CBI.
The CVC, through solicitor-general Tushar Mehta sought time beyond two weeks to conduct the inquiry, saying it would not be sufficient.
“Considering the nature and load of this issue, this time will not be sufficient as there are many documents we will have to go through,” Mehta said.
Calling the Centre’s action “patently illegal”, Verma, in his plea, said it was in violation of provisions under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, which secure a two-year term for the CBI director.
“The CBI ought to be insulated from the government, the present actions give serious credence to the requirement that the CBI be given independence,” the plea stated.
It also said that the high-powered committee comprising the Prime Minister, leader of opposition and Chief Justice of India was not consulted by the Centre before appointing Rao as the new director.
On Wednesday, Verma and the CBI’s special director Rakesh Asthana were sent on leave with immediate effect. In an order, the appointments committee of the cabinet said Rao, who was serving as a joint director of the CBI, had been appointed as interim director of the agency.
A section of the CBI headquarters in New Delhi was sealed on Wednesday morning, and cases being overseen by both Verma and Asthana were passed on to Rao.
On Tuesday, the Delhi high court had asked the CBI to provide a copy of the first information report (FIR) mentioning the various criminal provisions under which Asthana and deputy superintendent of police Devender Kumar were booked. Justice Najmi Waziri, who was hearing the case, ordered status quo till 29 October
On Monday evening, CBI sleuths had arrested Kumar, the investigating officer of a CBI special investigation team (SIT) probing money-laundering charges against controversial Hyderabad-based meat exporter Moin Qureshi.
Kumar was charged with falsifying the statement of another Hyderabad-based businessman, Sathish Sana, who is a key witness in the Qureshi case, to implicate Verma.
Tuesday’s supplementary chargesheet against Asthana is related to the 15 October case of criminal conspiracy and corruption filed by the CBI against him. Asthana has spearheaded several important investigations such as those into the AgustaWestland scam, the Bihar fodder scam, the coal scam and the probe against liquor baron Vijay Mallya.
He was also probing the INX Media case, allegedly involving former Union minister P. Chidambaram, as well as the IRCTC tender issuance case, involving former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav.