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The Supreme Court will resume the hearing today in the CBI Director Alok Verma’s petition challenging the Centre’s order divesting him of powers and asking him to go on leave.

On November 29, in the last hearing, the CJI Ranjan Gogoi-led SC bench said it would first consider whether the government has the power to divest the CBI director of his duties under whatever circumstances or whether the selection committee headed by the prime minister must be approached before moving against Alok Verma on corruption allegations involving him, agencies reported

The court took this stand after making it clear that for now it was not going into the allegations and counter-allegations involving Verma and CBI’s No.2 officer and Special Director R K Asthana.

The top court also clarified it has not taken judicial note of Verma’s reply given to the court in a sealed cover on the probe findings of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) against him.

It had also asked the probe agency to keep record of all transfers made after Alok Verma was divested of his duties. “Should it become necessary to go into the CVC report, then we might have to defer the hearing to allow all parties to respond on the report,” said the CJI.

At a n earlier hearing, the court had held  held the CBI director responsible for leaking confidential details related to the case while lamenting the evident lack of respect for the institution.

On Tuesday (November 20) morning, the bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph had resumed its proceedings in Verma’s petition challenging the Centre’s decision of divesting him of his responsibilities as CBI chief. The court expressed its displeasure over selective leaks of purported findings of an inquiry conducted by the Central Vigilance Commission against Verma and the CBI chief’s response to it – both confidential documents submitted with the Supreme Court in sealed covers.

CJI Gogoi had, moments after the hearing commenced, asked Verma’s lead counsel, senior advocate Fali Nariman how confidential details related to the case were being published by sections of the media. Nariman had told the bench that the leaks were “unauthorized” and that the court could “summon the editors” for further information.

Sources say among the key triggers for the CJI’s wrath was an article published by online news portal The Wire which had reproduced excerpts of Verma’s response to a questionnaire he was given by the Central Vigilance Commission during the two weeks that it conducted a court-monitored probe against the CBI chief under supervision of retired Supreme Court judge, Justice AK Patnaik. The CVC inquiry was been initiated under four broad categories of complaints made against Verma by his deputy, Rakesh Asthana, who has also been divested of his responsibilities as CBI special director by the central government. The Supreme Court had earlier remarked that the findings of the CVC were “very complimentary on some of the charges” made out against Verma but also “not so complimentary and very uncomplimentary” on other charges.

–India Legal Bureau

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