In a major setback to the government, the Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph on Tuesday quashed its order of divesting CBI Chief Alok Verma and reinstated him back to his position as CBI chief, though restrained him from taking any major decisions till the committee constituted under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act gives its report.
The Court added that the committee formulated as per the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act will have to consider the issue afresh and till then Verma will not take any major policy decision. The Court granted three week's time to the committee to consider the case.
The verdict came over two petitions, one filed by Alok Verma and the other by NGO Common Cause, against the government’s order divesting him of his duties and sending him on compulsory leave citing the of allegations of corruption against him.
NGO also sought a court-monitored SIT probe into allegations of corruption against various CBI officials including Special Director Rakesh Asthana.
Verma has challenged the decision on the grounds that the orders of the government violated Section 4B of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946, which grants the CBI Director a secure term of two years to ensure the independence of functioning.
It was alleged that as per the provision, a CBI Director cannot be transferred without prior permission of the high-powered committee comprising of the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition and Chief Justice of India.
Along with Verma, Special Director Rakesh Asthana was also relieved from his office through the order passed in midnight in October last year when their internal fight surfaced into the public.
The Court earlier ordered Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) inquiry in connection with the issue of Alok Verma and appointment of Mr M Nageshwar Rao as interim Director in his place.
On December 6, the court reserved its order over the pleas and sought an answer from the Centre that why the government, before taking the stern decision of divesting top officials of the premier agency, Central Bureau of Investigation, didn't consider to consult the same with a larger panel as the issue was not something that cropped up overnight.
The Supreme Court said that the essence of government action must be in light of a legitimate concern for the institution.