SC reserves order on Alok Verma's plea, asks Centre 'what was the hurry to send CBI chief on leave?

File photo of the Supreme Court of India. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Dec 06, 2018, 03.35 PM (IST)

The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its judgment on the petitions filed by CBI Director Alok Verma and NGO Common Cause challenging the Centre’s decision to divest Verma of his charges and send him on leave.

The bench, which heard the arguments, was headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.

It also heard the petition moved by NGO Common Cause which had sought court-monitored SIT probe into allegations of corruption against various CBI officials including Special Director Rakesh Asthana.

Verma and his deputy in the CBI, Rakesh Asthana, have made allegations of corruption against each other.

The apex court came down heavily on the central government on the issue of CBI power struggle and said that difference between the two warring officers did not emerge overnight. 

The court also questioned the government's hasty act to divest Verma of his powers.

''Why the government acted hastily to divest the CBI Director Alok Verma of his powers without consulting the Selection Committee?'' the CJI asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Central Vigilance Commission which had passed the order recommending to send him on leave.

CJI Gogoi added, "The government has to be fair, what was the difficulty in consulting the selection committee before divesting Alok Verma of his power? The essence of every government action should be to adopt the best course."

The court had on November 29 said that 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 should have been approached before moving against Verma on corruption allegations against him.

The court had taken 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 Asthana, both of whom have been stripped of their powers and sent on leave following their bitter feud.

Verma's two-year tenure ends on January 31.

(With inputs from PTI)