INDIA: Supreme Court reinstates Alok Verma as CBI Director; Congress slams Modi

Alok Verma

New Delhi (IANS): The Supreme Court on Tuesday restored the powers of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Director Alok Verma as it set aside the Centre’s decision to divest him of his powers to function as the head of the investigating agency.

While restoring Verma’s powers, a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice K.M. Joseph said that the matter will go to the selection committee which will look into the issue.

Pronouncing the judgement on behalf of Chief Justice Gogoi, Justice Kaul said that the selection committee will meet within seven days from Tuesday and till then Verma will resist from taking any important policy decisions.

The selection committee comprises the Prime Minister, the Leader of Opposition and the Chief Justice of India.

The Supreme Court pronounced the judgement on a plea by the Central Bureau of Investigation Director and NGO Common Cause challenging the government’s decision on the intervening night of October 23-24 to divest Verma of his charge as head of the investigating agency.

Senior Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan described the Supreme Court order as a “partial victory”, as he was not been given full powers.

“The Supreme Court has today quashed the government’s decision and the CVC’s (Central Vigilance Commission) decision to divest Verma of his powers as the CBI Director and they have restored him as CBI director,” Bhushan told the media outside the court following the judgement.

“But strangely quashing the orders divesting him as CBI Director and despite restoring him, the court has said that he will not take major policy decision till such time that this high powered committee comprising the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition and Chief Justice of India meets and considers the matter,” he said.

Bhushan, is one of the petitioners for the Common Cause NGO, which has challenged the order sending the CBI director on leave and divesting him of all powers.

The Congress slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying he has been exposed for “destroying” the premier investigating agency.

“Modi adds another first to his list. After being the first Prime Minister to be exposed destroying the CBI before the Supreme Court, after having ruined the CVC’s (Central Vigilance Commission) credibility (requiring supervision by former SC judge), Modi has now become first Prime Minister to have his illegal orders set aside by the Supreme Court,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said in a series of tweets.

Reminding Modi that the government comes and goes but the integrity of the institutions survive, Surjewala hoped that the judgement would be a “lesson” to the Prime Minister about the strength of country’s democracy and the Constitution.

“Modiji please remember, governments have come and gone. Integrity of our institutions have survived. Let this be a lesson to you about the strength of our democracy and the Constitution. Let this be a lesson that howsoever despotic you may be, law catches up in the end,” he said.

The Congress leader said: “After making CBI Chief suffer the consequences of your illegal decision for three months, will you show the courage to return three months of lost tenure? Unless you are afraid of investigation into Rafale scam.

“Modi equals to ‘Muzzling of Democratic Institutions’. First, you lose four economic advisors in a row including two RBI Governors. Second, four Supreme Court judges go public on Judge (B.H.) Loya, then you destroy credibility and competence of the CBI and CVC. This is your model of ‘minimum governance, maximum government’,” he added.

Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi questioned the Supreme Court verdict asking what has changed now.

“Before the Supreme Court verdict; Alok Verma didn’t have powers of CBI Chief, couldn’t take any decision on policy or investigation. After Supreme Court verdict: Ditto,” Singhvi tweeted.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal accused the Modi government of ruining all institutions and democracy in the country and said the Supreme Court order was a “direct indictment of the Prime Minister”.

“SC (Supreme Court) reinstating CBI director Alok Verma is a direct indictment of the PM (Prime Minister). Modi government has ruined all institutions and democracy in our country. Wasn’t CBI director illegally removed at midnight to stall the probe in Rafale scam which directly leads to PM himself,” the Aam Aadmi Party Chief tweeted.

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