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Attorney General KK Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta make submissions to justify the Centre’s action against CBI director Alok Verma

The Supreme Court resumed its hearing, on Wednesday (December 5), on the petition filed by CBI director Alok Verma challenging the Centre’s decision of October 24 to divest him of his responsibilities as the agency’s chief.

The bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph had, on November 29, heard submissions from lawyers, including senior advocate Fali Nariman (for Alok Verma), who have challenged the Centre’s decision and posted the case for further submissions on Wednesday (December 5).

The Proceedings on Wednesday:
Attorney General KK Venugopal continued his submissions on behalf of the Centre, reiterating his assertions made during the last hearing in the case, that the Centre had not violated any law while sending Verma on leave.

During the last date of hearing too, Venugopal had proceeded on the premise that the selection committee for appointing the CBI director was mandated to recommend names for the post of the agency’s chief or transferring him and that the Centre was the final appointing authority. The Attorney General justified the Centre’s action against Verma, on Wednesday, stating that the spat between the CBI director and his deputy, special director Rakesh Asthana, was tarnishing the reputation of the country’s premier investigation agency.

Venugopal argued that the central government had taken the decision to send Verma on leave after “due application of mind” and concluding that “a situation had arisen wherein the CBI director had to be divested of his responsibilities.” The AG, however, insisted that by not referring the matter to the CBI director’s selection committee before acting against Verma, the Centre had not erred because the selection panel must be asked to carry out an inquiry only if the government wishes to transfer the CBI chief. He said, in Verma’s case, there was no transfer and that the petitioner continued to enjoy the perks of office.

Submitting that the Centre’s powers of superintendence, in its role as the appointing authority of the CBI director, Venugopal concluded his arguments.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), picked up from where his senior law officer left off. Mehta emphasized on the superintendence of the CVC over the CBI director and said that the vigilance panel is mandated to oversee CBI cases registered under the Prevention of Corruption Act. He added that the Centre too was free to ask the CVC to initiate investigations against CBI officials if needed.

The bench posted the matter for next hearing on Thursday, December 6.

— India Legal Bureau

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