SC to pronounce verdict on removal of Alok Verma today

A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, is scheduled on January 8 to pronounce its judgment on a petition filed by exiled CBI Director Alok Verma against his “overnight” divestment from the top position in the country’s premier investigation agency. The Bench, which also comprises Justices S.K. Kaul and K.M. Joseph, had reserved the Mr. Verma’s petition and another filed by NGO Common Cause on December 6, 2018. On the last day of hearing, Chief Justice Gogoi had quizzed Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), about its tearing hurry to divest Mr. Verma ‘overnight’ on October 23. The enquiry against Mr. Verma was based on a complaint of misconduct filed by CBI Special Director R.K. Asthana with the Cabinet Secretary on August 24 in the background of a bitter feud between the top officers.

Mr. Asthana’s complaint had ultimately led to Mr. Verma’s divestment on the intervening night of October 23-24. Mr. Asthana was also exiled on the same day. ‘Surprise situation’ Mr. Mehta had responded to the Chief Justice of India that the sudden action was a result of an extraordinary situation. “Two senior most CBI officers (Verma and Asthana) had turned against each other. Instead of probing cases, they were raiding each other, registering FIRs against each other. They may tamper evidence. This was a surprise situation!” Mr. Mehta had said. The court had repeatedly asked why neither the CVC nor the government chose to take prior approval from the high-powered committee led by the Prime Minister before divesting Mr. Verma before the end of his statutory two-year tenure.

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