Supreme Court reinstates Alok Verma as CBI Director with limited powers

Published: Jan 08, 2019, 19:27 IST | IANS | New Delhi

The court said the HPC will meet within a week from Tuesday

Supreme Court
Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Tuesday restored the powers of the CBI Director Alok Verma, setting aside the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and the Centre's decision to divest him of his powers to function as the head of the investigating agency.

While restoring Verma's powers as head of the investigating agency, a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K.M. Joseph said he would cease and desist from taking any police decisions till the issue of denuding of his powers was decided by the High Power Committee (HPC) comprising the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition and the Chief Justice.

The court said the HPC will meet within a week from Tuesday.

CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana had levelled certain allegation in a note to the Cabinet Secretary which was sent to CVC for inquiry.

"We deem it proper to direct that... Verma ... upon reinstatement will cease and desist from taking any major policy decisions till the decision of the Committee permitting actions and decisions becomes available within the time frame indicated," the court said in its order.

While restoring the powers of Verma to act as CBI Director with a caveat that he would not take any major policy decisions, the top court also junked the Centre's order asking Joint Director M. Nageswara Rao to look after the duties and functions of CBI Director.

Pronouncing the judgement authored by Chief Justice Gogoi, Justice Kaul said: "An indepth consideration of the matter leaves us with no doubt that the clear legislative intent ... (was) ensuring complete insulation of the office of the Director, CBI, from all kinds of extraneous influences, as may be, as well as for upholding the integrity and independence of the institution of the CBI as a whole."

The court said this while addressing the question on the competence of the CVC and the Centre to divest the CBI Director of his powers, functions and duties and supervisory role without obtaining the prior consent of the HPC constituted under Section 4 A(1) of the DSPE Act.

The court said that understanding the word "transfer" in ordinary parlance of shifting from one post to another and reading the same in the case of CBI Director would be "self defeating and would clearly negate the legislative intent".

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