M Nageswara Rao, who is holding post of interim CBI Director, was on Tuesday, 18 December, promoted to the rank of an additional director by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet.
Meanwhile, Delhi's Patiala House Court on Tuesday, 18 December, granted bail to Manoj Prasad, an alleged middleman arrested in connection with bribery allegations involving CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana.
The CBI on Tuesday also examined Hyderabad-based businessman Sathish Babu Sana to verify and corroborate his statement that had formed the basis of its case of bribery against its Special Director Rakesh Asthana, reported PTI.
- Alok Verma’s two-year tenure ends on 31 January
- He has challenged the Centre’s decision to divest him of duties
- Verma’s counsel Fali Nariman has argued that the transfer of CBI Director should have the approval of the Selection Committee comprising the PM, CJI and Leader of Opposition
What Has Happened So Far?
Following the temporary leave issued to CBI Director Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana over infighting stemming from bribery allegations, IPS officer M Nageswara Rao was appointed the interim director of the investigative agency.
On Friday, the bench was also expected to consider the report of acting CBI director M Nageswara Rao also filed in a sealed cover in the court with regard to the decisions taken by him from 23-26 October.
Meanwhile, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, on November 3, moved the Supreme Court against the removal of Verma, terming it “completely illegal, arbitrary, punitive, and without jurisdiction.”
No Decision on Matter Today
The Supreme Court on 16 November took no decision on the Alok Verma case, handing over the report filed by the CVC in the matter to Verma’s lawyer. Verma is expected to filed a counter-report on Monday, and the matter has now been posted to Tuesday.
The CJI, while hearing the case, commented that the CVC’s report was “mixed”, adding that a further probe would be required with respect to some of the allegations against Verma.
Meanwhile, Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana, appealed for the CVC report to be made public. The CJI declined Rohatgi’s request, reported LiveLaw.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said the Central Vigilance Commission report should also be given to Attorney General K K Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.
Supreme Court Order on 16 November
The SC ordered, “We have perused the report of the CVC. We are of the view that, at this stage, and before taking any decision thereon a copy of the report of the CVC should be furnished by the Registry of this Court, in sealed cover, to the learned counsel appearing for the petitioner Alok Kumar Verma.”
“We order accordingly. It will be open for the petitioner in writ petition to file his response to the said report of the CVC again in sealed cover,” the apex court added.
CBI Officer Probing FIR Against Asthana Moves SC
Manish Kumar Sinha, IPS officer and head of the team investigating CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana, moved the Supreme Court against his transfer to Nagpur and seeking SIT probe in Asthana case, on Monday, 19 November.
Sinha mentioned his plea before a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi for urgent hearing on Tuesday, 20 November. Sinha asked that his plea be heard along with the one on CBI Director, Alok Verma, who has been accused of bribery charges.
Alok Verma to File Reply to CVC Report by 4 pm
CBI Director Alok Verma on Monday, 19 November, sought more time to file a reply on CVC report. While he was initially supposed to file his reply at 1 pm, the Supreme Court has now given him time till 4 pm to file it.
SC Dismisses Verma's Plea for Tue Meeting to be Adjourned
The Supreme Court on Monday, 19 November, said that it will not adjourn the hearing in the case, which is fixed for Tuesday, 20 November, based on CBI Director Alok Verma’s plea against the government’s decision to divest him of duties.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi further urged Verma to file his reply to the CVC report, as “quickly as possible”, so that it could be read within the day.
"We are not shifting the date. You file as quickly as possible. We will have to read the response," the bench said.
To this, the lawyer said the response will be filed during the day itself.
CBI Will Be Called 'Centre For Bogus Investigation' if Probe Not Completed: Sinha
CBI Officer MK Sinha, who had moved the court earlier in the day against his transfer to Nagpur, said that if the investigations into allegations against Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana were not completed “expeditiously,” then CBI would come to stand for “Centre for Bogus Investigation” and ED would stand for “Extortion Directorate.”
CBI officer MK Sinha says, if investigation is not completed expeditiously in CBI & ED, these agencies will become “Centre for Bogus Investigation” and “Extortion Directorate”. #CBIvsCBI— Poonam Agarwal (@poonamjourno) November 19, 2018
CBI Director Alok Verma Files Reply to CVC Report
CBI Director Alok Verma, who was initially given time till 1 pm to file his reply to the CVC report against him, that was later extended by the court to 4 pm, filed his reply in a sealed cover, in the Supreme Court.
The matter will now be heard in court on Tuesday, 20 November.
Nothing Shocks Us: SC On Another Call for 'Urgent Hearing' by CBI Officer
Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on Monday, 19 November, declined giving an early hearing to a petition by CBI Joint Director Manish Kumar Sinha, the investigator in the probe against Rakesh Asthana, who had moved the court challenging his sudden transfer to Nagpur.
Sinha’s lawyer had told the CJI that he wished to bring some “shocking facts” to the top court.
Dismissing the call for an urgent hearing, CJI Gogoi retorted saying: “Nothing shocks us.”
Alok Verma Files Response to CVC Findings
CBI Director Alok Kumar Verma filed his response Monday to the findings of the CVC's preliminary probe report on corruption charges against him in a sealed cover in the Supreme Court after he was told to do so "as quickly as possible" as the scheduled Tuesday hearing on his plea would not be deferred.
Verma, who was asked to file his response to the Central Vigilance Commission's (CVC) report in a sealed cover by Monday 1 pm, sought some more time from the bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi for filing his reply with the secretary general of the apex court around 12.40 pm.
"We are not shifting the date (of hearing). You file it as quickly as possible as we will have to read it," the bench, also comprising justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph, told Verma's lawyer Gopal Sankaranarayanan.
‘Union Minister Took Crores from Sathish Sana’: CBI Officer to SC
CBI Officer Manish Kumar Sinha told the Supreme Court on Monday, 19 November, that a Union minister had taken "a few crores" as bribe to intervene on the behalf of a Hyderabad-based businessman who is under the agency’s radar.
In a petition to the top court, Sinha said that businessman Sathish Sana had claimed to have paid the bribe to Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary, presently the Minister of State for Coal and Mines.
Read more here.
Law Secy Assured ‘Govt Protection’ to Sathish Sana: CBI DIG To SC
CBI Deputy Inspector General (Nagpur) MK Sinha, on Monday, 19 November, filed a fresh petition in the Supreme Court, demanding an urgent hearing on his application challenging his transfer.
The petition brought to light a conversation between Sinha and Sathish Sana – the Hyderabad-based businessman who levelled bribery allegations against CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana – that indicates the government was trying to influence the key complainant in the bribery case during the CVC probe against CBI Director Alok Verma.
Read more here.
NSA Ajit Doval Interfered in Probe Against Asthana: CBI DIG
CBI Joint Director MK Sinha on Monday, 19 November, submitted a petition challenging his transfer to Nagpur before the Supreme Court, in which he has claimed that National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval had interfered in the bribery probe against CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana, and even stalled a search to be conducted at Asthana’s residence .
Read more here.
Decision on Alok Verma's Reply Expected Shortly
Supreme Court today will decide on whether to reinstate or indict CBI Director Alok Verma, who was told by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi to file a reply as quickly as possible.
CJI Gogoi-led bench with Justice SK Kaul and Justice KM Joseph will deliver the decision, which is expected shortly.
The top court has already started analysing Verma’s reply as the matter is the primary one to be listed, reported News18.
Key Hearing on CBI Dir Alok Verma’s Reply Begins in Supreme Court
Minutes after the hearing began, CJI Ranjan Gogoi is reportedly agitated with Fali Nariman over the mentioning yesterday seeking additional time to file reply. Nariman says mentioning by Gopal Sankaranarayanan yesterday was "unauthorised" and he was not even informed. He got to know from media.
CJI Displeased with Leak of Information
The hearing took an even worse turn, when the CJI then handed Nariman a copy of a report in The Wire that allegedly quoted Alok Verma's response to the CVC.
"The reply was supposed to be in a sealed cover" the CJI said, referring to last Friday's order which had directed Verma to respond to the CVC report in a sealed cover. Nariman responded that he was deeply disturbed by the leakage of information, which was obviously unauthorised.
It is unclear which report the CJI is referring to - as the only current report which The Wire has on Verma's report - refers to his responses to the CVC's questions during their inquiry, not his reply to the inquiry report.
Nonetheless, the CJI was sufficiently angry with the proceedings to say that "We are not hearing today. We don't think any of you deserve a hearing." He also singled out Nariman for his disapproval, noting he was such a senior member of the bar. The reasons for the deferral of the hearing have not been provided.
SC Adjourns Hearing on CBI’s Alok Verma to 29 November
After a fractious hearing, the Supreme Court on Tuesday deferred its hearing on the petition filed by CBI Director Alok Verma to 29 November.
CJI Ranjan Gogoi, presiding over the bench, was already displeased with Verma's lawyers because of a request made by them yesterday for an extension of time to file a reply to the CVC report against him.
When asked senior advocate Fali Nariman about this request, Nariman answered that the request hadn't been authorised by him, blaming one of Verma's other lawyers Gopal Sankarnarayan instead.
But the hearing took an even worse turn, when the CJI then handed Nariman a copy of a report in The Wire that allegedly quoted Alok Verma's response to the CVC.
When asked senior advocate Fali Nariman about this request, Nariman answered that the request hadn't been authorised by him, blaming one of Verma's other lawyers Gopal Sankarnarayan instead.
SC Agrees to Hear Verma's Plea Later Today
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear Verma’s counsel Fali Nariman later today again. Nariman approached the top court again and sought another chance from the court to clarify media leaks which agitated the CJI Gogoi.
“Nariman mentioned to the CJI to have the matter taken up once the list is over, for which the CJI has agreed,” reported Live Law.
Our Stories Were Not Based on Contents of Sealed Envelope: The Wire
After its story published on 17 November created an uproar in the court, The Wire has released a clarification and said that the stories were on Alok Verma’s responses to questions the CVC had put to him. The court had referred to a story by The Wire earlier today and said it contained contents of Alok Verma’s repsonse.
“These were not in a sealed cover and were not meant for the Supreme Court. As for his response to CVC’s final report, handed over to SC in sealed cover, we haven’t seen or reported that,” The Wire said in a tweet.
This is to clarify that @thewire_in stories were on Alok Verma’s responses to questions the CVC put to him. These were not in a sealed cover and were not meant for the SC. As for his response to CVC’s final report, handed over to SC in sealed cover, we haven’t seen/reported that. https://t.co/ej7htVwBRJ— The Wire (@thewire_in) November 20, 2018
CJI Starts Hearing Verma's Plea Again
In a fresh round of hearing, Fali Nariman clarified that the Supreme Court order has not been violated, reported Live Law.
Nariman further told the court that the article handed over to him by the CJI is about response to CVC and it was published before the Supreme Court order.
"We did not give the article to you as a counsel for Alok Verma", says CJI Gogoi.
“Regardless of who you are representing, we are sure you won't let this get in the way of your responsibility as officer of the court"
CJI hands over another article to them, says this is also a problem and specifies that "we don't want to hear anyone except Mr Nariman regarding what we have raised."
No One Tells Me What to Do: Nariman
In the fresh round of hearings, CJI Gogoi and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul discuss with Nariman and the other lawyers that the idea was to keep things confidential, and not have them released in the media.
Following this, a reportedly angry Nariman said, "I belong to a time when nobody would say anything about what was happening in court, I don't need anyone to tell me what to do."
"We want to know what is going on. This court is not a platform, it's a place where rights are upheld" Gogoi said.
Case will Only be heard on 29 November, Orders CJI
After stating that the court is not a platform but a place for adjudication, CJI refused to hear the matter and adjourned the hearing for 29 November, as previously stated.
CJI Gogoi refused to hear any arguments, including Verma’s counsel Nariman's attempt to show that The Wire's article dealt with responses to the CVC's questions, not the inquiry report. The CJI had raised strict objection to the articles published by The Wire.
The CJI had allowed Nariman to appear before him, but only to provide him with two more articles which he felt indicated problematic leaks of information to the media.
“This court is not a platform. This is a place for adjudication. We intend to set it right. No hearing today,” CJI said.
“We expressed that highest degree of confidentiality should be maintained and this litigant takes the papers and shares it with everyone. Our respect for this institution is not shared by anyone for some strange reason,” Bar and Bench reported, quoting the CJI.
Advocate Gopal Shankaranarayanan Resigns as Alok Verma's Junior Counsel
Days after CJI Rajan Gogoi expressed disappointment at purported leaks breaching efforts to maintain confidentiality in the CBI vs CBI case, Advocate Gopal Shankaranarayanan withdrew himself as the junior counsel for ousted CBI director Alok Verma, The Times of India reported on Thursday, 22 November.
Shankaranarayanan cited 'communication gap' between him and the senior counsel’s office for his resignation.
"I want to make it clear that I withdrew from the case on Monday evening itself and wasn’t there for Tuesday’s hearing. I remain on cordial terms with Mr Verma and it is only the professional engagement that has ceased," he told TOI.
HC Allows Alok Verma, CBI Jt Dir to Inspect Files Against Rakesh Asthana
The Delhi High Court has permitted CBI Director Alok Verma and Joint Director A K Sharma to inspect files in the CVC's office relating to FIR against the agency's Special Director Rakesh Asthana. The direction from Delhi High Court on Wednesday, 28 November.
Justice Najmi Waziri asked Verma to go to Central Vigilance Commission's office on Thursday after his counsel said there are allegations of mala fide against him in Asthana's petition.
CBI Director Alok Verma had sought permission for accessing files as he feared tampering of evidences.
The court has extended its order directing the CBI to maintain status quo till 7 December regarding proceedings against Asthana.
What Can We Expect?
Based on Verma's responses, the CJI will decide whether or not to allow the status quo to continue and let the CVC probe further, or reject calls for a further probe and reinstate Verma. This would also require an assessment of the government's power to take action against Verma in the first place back in October.
In addition, the apex court will also need to consider all the decisions taken by interim director Nageshwar Rao since 23 October to determine whether these comply with the Supreme Court order restricting him from taking any policy/major decisions.
CBI vs CBI: Court to Hear Alok Verma's Plea Against Removal
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear Thursday CBI director Alok Verma's plea challenging the government's order divesting him of his duties and sending him on leave in view of graft allegations against him.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi is likely to consider the response of Verma given in a sealed cover on the findings of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) in the preliminary inquiry against him.
The bench is also likely to consider the report of acting CBI Director M Nageswara Rao also filed in a sealed cover in the court with regard to the decisions taken by him from 23-26 October.
Alok Verma's Junior Lawyers Replaced
The junior lawyers representing Alok Verma have been replaced, according to reports. Fali Nariman will continue to represent Verma.
SC Begins Hearing Alok Verma’s Plea Against Removal
The Supreme Court on Thursday, 29 November, began hearing CBI director Alok Verma's plea against his interim leave imposed by the government, in the backdrop of corruption allegations against Special Director Rakesh Asthana.
Fali Nariman Refers to Sahara Judgement
Alok Verma’s counsel Fali Nariman refers to Sahara judgment in the context of publication by media of materials which have been filed in court before the matter is heard, Live Law reported.
He said that the view in Sahara judgment is that media cannot be prohibited from publishing material which has been filed in court.
Verma Cannot Be Held Responsible for Leaked Articles: Nariman
Alok Verma's lawyer Fali Nariman argues that his client cannot be held responsible for the articles CJI Gogoi took exception to. He further said that publication of articles cannot be restricted unless the court issues a specific order.
The hearing finally begins. Alok Verma's lawyer Fali Nariman arguing that his client cannot be held responsible for the articles CJI Gogoi took exception to at the last hearing. Says publication of articles cannot be restricted unless court issues a specific order. @TheQuint— Vakasha Sachdev (@VakashaS) November 29, 2018
Alok Verma Distances Himself from MK Sinha's Applications
Alok Verma distances himself from CBI DIG MK Sinha's application containing allegations against several people.
Everyone Will Be Heard Today: CJI Gogoi
CJI Gogoi told the counsels that all parties will be heard today.
SC Begins Hearing the Main Case
The Supreme Court, waving aside the issue of media leaks, begins hearing the case of Alok Verma’s plea.
Director's Removal Should Have Approval of Selection Committee: Nariman
Alok Verma’s counsel argues that the transfer of CBI Director should have approval of Selection Committee, Live Law reported. He also said that stripping the Director of charges is equivalent to a transfer.
He also emphasised that it was beyond the authority of the CVC and the government to have exiled Alok Verma without an approval from the appointing committee.
He further argued that appointing committee, that is comprised of the PM, CJI and Leader of Opposition,can have the leader of single largest party in the absence of Leader of Opposition, but that did not happen in Verma’s case when he was sent on leave.
#CBIVsCBI : "I am on a question of law right now, not a question of fact", Nariman says. He reads out the CVC order divesting Verma of his powers, says the CVC had no authority to do this without approaching the special committee. @TheQuint— Vakasha Sachdev (@VakashaS) November 29, 2018
What if a CBI Director Is Caught Red Handed Taking Bribe?: Justice KM Joseph
Justice KM Joseph asked Fali Nariman representing Alok Verma as to what should be done if a CBI director is caught red handed taking bribe, Live Law reported.
"Suppose a CBI chief is caught red-handed taking a bribe, what should be the course of action? You say the Committee has to be approached but should the person continue even for a minute?" he said.
According to Live Law, Nariman replied that the Committee has to be approached in such cases as well.
Fali Nariman Concludes Arguments
Alok Verma’s counsel Fali Nariman concludes his arguments.
#CBIVsCBI : CJI Gogoi says they will at present only be considering the argument by Nariman that the action against Verma could only have been taken with approval of the selection committee. Dushyant Dave, arguing for Common Cause, now making arguments to this. @TheQuint— Vakasha Sachdev (@VakashaS) November 29, 2018
Dushyant Dave, Representing NGO Common Cause, Begins Arguments
Dushyant Dave begins arguing for NGO Common Cause. The court said that it will hear the arguments limiting to the powers of the appointing committee.
Bench Adjourns for Lunch, Hearing Will Resume at 2 pm
After hearing Fali Nariman and Dushyant Dave’s arguments in the case, SC will resume hearing at 2 pm after lunch break.
Hearing Resumes in Supreme Court
The Supreme Court resumed hearing the plea by CBI director Alok Verma after a lunch break.
Dushyant Dave resumes arguing for NGO Common Cause, which has asked the court to quash both the orders divesting Alok Verma of his powers, as well as the order appointing Nageshwar Rao as interim director.
#CBIVsCBI : Hearing in SC resumes. Dushyant Dave resumes arguing for NGO Common Cause, which has asked the court to quash both the orders divesting Alok Verma of his powers, as well as the order appointing Nageshwar Rao as interim director. @TheQuint— Vakasha Sachdev (@VakashaS) November 29, 2018
Director Can Only Be Removed by Established Mechanism: Dushyant Dave
Advocate Dushyant Dave argued that like public service commissioners and judges of the higher judiciary, the CBI director can only be removed by the established mechanism. Since the selection committee is the only authority which could transfer Verma, this could not be done indirectly by the government, he said.
Kapil Sibal Begins Arguing on Behalf of Mallikarjun Kharge
Congress leader Kapil Sibal began arguments on behalf of Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge. Kharge was supposed to be a part of the Selection Committee that would authorise the removal or transfer of Verma.
Sibal argued that the order to seal Verma's office was passed without powers under the CVC Act. According to Live Law, Sibal further argued that if the power to appoint is with the Selection Committee, the power to remove is also with the committee. He further said that if this has happened to the CBI director, this may happen to the CVC or to the Election Commission.
Senior advocate @KapilSibal continues. Says that the CVC passed its order against Verma on the basis of Section 8(1)(a) and 8(1)(b) of the CVC Act. However the powers of superintendence for the CVC are limited and only relate to investigations of corruption. @TheQuint— Vakasha Sachdev (@VakashaS) November 29, 2018
Sibal said that the actions recommended by the CVC are "outside the ambit of its powers of superintendence".
The actions recommended by the CVC are "outside the ambit of its powers of superintendence". Similarly, the Centre's power of superintendence over the CBI under Section 4(2) if the DSPE Act also doesn't allow the divestment of the CBI Director's power, says @KapilSibal @TheQuint— Vakasha Sachdev (@VakashaS) November 29, 2018
Even Supreme Court Can't Order Removal of CBI Director: Kapil Sibal Tells Court
Referring to Justice KM Joseph's earlier question, Kapil Sibal said that even if the CBI Director is caught red-handed, action must be taken against him through the selection committee only. Even the SC can't order the transfer, since there is a statutory process, he added.
Sibal also tried to argue that the CVC cannot have the power to order the action against Verma since, because of all the counter-allegations, this would amount to "being a judge in their own case." CJI Gogoi said the allegations against CVC weren't relevant.
Can't the CBI Director be Touched Without Approaching Selection Committee? SC Asks Sibal
CJI Gogoi asked Kapil Sibal if the CBI Director could not be touched without the consent of the Selection Committee.
"Are you advancing a proposition that reference to the selection committee is an absolute condition, with no exceptions? The director of the CBI cannot be touched without approaching the committee?" asked Gogoi.
Sibal replied in affirmative to the question.
CJI Gogoi asks @KapilSibal : "Are you advancing a proposition that reference to the selection committee is an absolute condition, with no exceptions? The Director of the CBI cannot be touched without approaching the committee?" Sibal says yes. @TheQuint— Vakasha Sachdev (@VakashaS) November 29, 2018
Rajeev Dhavan Argues for AK Bassi
Rajeev Dhavan argues for AK Bassi, who was investigating Rakesh Asthana, before being transferred by interim director Nageshwar Rao to Port Blair.
Dhavan argues that the CVC's power of superintendence over the CBI is very limited. According to him, superintendence is a "term of art" and can't be used for anything the government feels like.
Dhavan says that even the Centre's power of superintendence is a general provision, that is subordinate to the specific provisions in the DSPE Act.
"If there is some lacunae, then it cannot be filled by the Centre or the CVC. It can only be filled by the Supreme Court," said Dhavan. He talks about the consequences of the action against Verma - the "Night of the Long Knives" - which saw Bassi transferred to Port Blair.
Appointing Authority of CBI Director is the Centre: Attorney General
With hearing commencing, Attorney General KK Venugopal, arguing for the Central Government, said the appointing authority of the CBI director is the Centre, and underlined the difference between the Selection Committee and the appointing authority, reported Live Law.
The Centre appoints from the names recommended by the Selection Committee, he reportedly said.
[Lots of murmuring in the court over what this argument means. This would mean the govt can remove a CBI director whenever it felt like]— Vakasha Sachdev (@VakashaS) November 29, 2018
CVC Has Complete Superintendence Over CBI: Attorney General
Attorney General KK Venugopal reportedly stated in the court that the CVC has complete superintendence over the CBI which is not restricted to just corruption cases. Instead the CVC Act includes “all other matters”.
Notably, Kapil Sibal had earlier said that the powers of superintendence for the CVC are limited and the actions recommended by the CVC are “outside the ambit of its powers of superintendence”.
Hearing Adjourned to 5 December
The Supreme Court hearing on CBI Director Alok Verma’s plea against his interim leave has been adjourned to Wednesday, 5 December.
CJI Ranjan Gogoi also reportedly said that the court is yet to take judicial note of the CVC inquiry report, and if it does so, then the various parties will be given a chance to file their replies.
Action Against Verma Did Not Amount to a Transfer: AG
During Thursday’s hearing, the Attorney General also said that the action taken against Alok Verma did not amount to a transfer.
CJI Gogoi asks A-G whether the divestment of Verma's powers by the gift was under Section 4(2) of the DSPE Act (Centre's general superintendence of CBI) or Section 4(1) of the Act (CVC's special superintendence of corruption investigations) @TheQuint— Vakasha Sachdev (@VakashaS) November 29, 2018
This is because the govt action was based on the CVC order recommending divestment - which was stated to be under Sections 8(1)(a) and 8(1)(b) of the CVC Act. According to CJI, this means the Centre's order should have been under s. 4(1) of the DSPE Act.— Vakasha Sachdev (@VakashaS) November 29, 2018
[Since the Centre's order was instead under 4(2), this could mean the Centre's order was on an incorrect basis]— Vakasha Sachdev (@VakashaS) November 29, 2018
"“The government intervention was to protect the public confidence in CBI, which was getting negative in view of the serious fight between two of its top officials. The government intervention was in public interest.”" - Attorney General KK Venugopal, as quoted by Live Law
SC Likely to Conclude Hearing in CBI Director's Plea
The SC is likely to conclude the hearing in CBI Director Alok Verma's petition against his removal from duties.
Hearing Begins in SC
Hearing commences in Supreme Court. Attorney General KK Venugopal resumes his submissions in the Supreme Court.
Attorney General KK Venugopal, representing the Central Government, explaining why they had to divest Verma of his powers.
A-G says the turf war between Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana had begun to compromise the institution. Action had to be taken against both of them to stop this from going too far.
Turf War Between Verma & Asthana Compromised CBH: A-G Venugopal
A-G KK Venugopal says the turf war between Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana had begun to “compromise the institution.” He called for action to be taken against both of them.
When Justice KM Joseph asked Venugopal on what basis he claims that the spat had gone public. The A-G responded saying he will submit articles to support his claim.
Centre Has Powers to Divest CBI Director of Duties: A-G Argues
A-G Venugopal quoted service roles for government servants to say that whoever has the “power to appoint a government servant also has the per to suspend or remove them.”
He argued that the Centre appointed the CBI Director, they also have the power to divest him of his powers.
Venugopal added that the Centre's general power of superintendence over the CBI under the DSPE Act includes all forms of administrative control.
God Knows Where the Fighting Would Have Ended: A-G
The Attorney General said that had Centre not intervened, “god knows where this infighting between two top most officers of CBI would have ended.”
He reiterated that the government had to step in before the Verma-Asthana spat went any further.
“Government didn't take action for some time, but was compelled to do so after developments in September,” Venugopal said.
"“Government of India was watching with amazement as to what these two officers were doing, they were fighting like cats.”" - A-G to SC
Can Centre Divest Verma's Power to Investigate Corruption Cases, Asks Justice KM Joseph
Justice KM Joseph asked whether the Centre can divest Verma of his powers to investigate cases of corruption, since it is the CVC which has powers of superintendence over the CBI.
Tushar Mehta Starts Arguments for CVC
Attorney General KK Venugopal concludes arguments. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta starts arguments for CVC.
Mehta Cites Vineet Narain Case, Which Introduced Safeguards for CBI Director
Tushar Mehta read out paragraphs from the Supreme Court's old Vineet Narain case, which first introduced the safeguards for the position of CBI Director, and the powers of superintendence of the CVC over the CBI.
CVC Given Superintendence by Law: Mehta to SC
Tushar Mehta argued that there was only one restriction on the CVC's power of superintendence – they cannot say an investigation has to lead to a particular result.
“The CVC has been given power of superintendence and power to give directions. The only limitation is that in individual cases, it cannot give directions on how a probe should be conducted,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued at the court.
He added that the central government can make a reference to the CVC for inquiry against CBI officials.
SC to Resume Hearings Tomorrow
The matter will be taken up at 10:30 am on Thursday, 6 December.
#CBIVsCBI | The Centre told the SC that the fight between two top officers of the CBI in public exposed the agency to ridicule and forced the govt to intervene, reports @VakashaS. https://t.co/WIZjellyC0 pic.twitter.com/S8Hxb5a8co— The Quint (@TheQuint) December 5, 2018
Hearing Begins in CBI Case
CBI case resumes in Supreme Court.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta is arguing for Central Vigilance Commission.
CJI Pulls Up the Government
CJI Ranjan Gogoi said that the fight between the two most senior CBI officers did not emerge overnight so why did government take immediate steps to divest the CBI Director Alok Verma of his powers without consulting the Selection Committee?
CJI Ranjan Gogoi further said, “Government has to be fair, what was the difficulty in consulting the Selection Committee before divesting Alok Verma of his power? Essence of every government action should be to adopt the best course.”
CJI clarifies that the tenure of the CBI Director is supposed to be a minimum of two years. Two years is not an outer limit. @TheQuint— Vakasha Sachdev (@VakashaS) December 6, 2018
CJI Gogoi further asked the Solicitor General as to what prompted the government to take an overnight decision on 23 October to divest CBI Director Alok Verma of his powers?
Tushar Mehta Begins Argument for CVC
Arguing in the Supreme Court, on behalf of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that the Centre has power to suspend a CBI Director if he is caught red-handed for bribery or sexual harassment.
Mehta argues that if a CBI Director is caught red handed for bribery or sexual harassment, Centre has power to suspend him immediately. @TheQuint— Vakasha Sachdev (@VakashaS) December 6, 2018
He further said that Alok Verma hadn’t responded to the CVC inquiries on allegations of corruption against him.
Mehta tries to explain why the situation was so extraordinary. Mentions that Verma hadn't responded to CVC inquiries, on allegations of corruption against him - which falls within the CVC's superintendence of the CBI. @TheQuint— Vakasha Sachdev (@VakashaS) December 6, 2018
Petition Against Rakesh Asthana's Appointment on 11 Dec
Curative petition against the verdict which upheld the appointment of Rakesh Asthana as the CBI Special Director will be considered on 11 December.
Direction Passed by the CVC to Divest Verma of his Powers
Tushar Mehta Requests Further Assessment of Facts
Mehta contests Justice KM Jospeh's observation that the action against CBI director Verma was disproportionate to the complaint again him. He requests for further assessment of the facts of the case.
AG Concludes Argument, ASG Narasimha Argues for CBI
Attorney General KK Venugopal said that if the Centre had approached the selection committee to ask if they could divest Verma of his powers and functions, the committee would have asked why the Centre had approached them, since there was no transfer taking place here.
Venugopal concluded his argument while ASG Narasimha appearing for the CBI tried to explain what the term transfer means in the context of Section 4B(2) of the DSPE Act, which says only the selection committee for the CBI Director can transfer them.
Mukul Rohatgi Commences Argument for Rakesh Asthana
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who is representing Rakesh Asthana, asks to be allowed to make some arguments. The judges are letting him address them briefly on the legal issues, whether the Centre and CVC had power to take action against Verma @TheQuint— Vakasha Sachdev (@VakashaS) December 6, 2018
Fali Nariman Starts Rejoinder Argument on Behalf of Alok Verma
Arguing on behalf of Alok Verma, Nariman spoke about the ambit of transfer and said, “Transfer is not to be understood just in terms of normal service rules.”
Fali Nariman now with a rejoinder for #CBI Director Alok Verma. Says the term transfer is not to be understood just in terms of normal service rules. It is a wider concept, tied to the CBI Director holding office for a protected tenure. @TheQuint— Vakasha Sachdev (@VakashaS) December 6, 2018
Nariman refers to the judgment used by the AG to say that this wasn't a transfer.
He noted that in that case, promotions weren't considered transfers. However, as per the Vineet Narain case, which introduced the protection against transfers, promotions was tantamount to transfer.
Nariman further argued, “The concept of transfers of CBI Director when it comes to the safeguard in Section 4B(2) of the DSPE Act, is different, and can't be looked at in terms of those other cases.”
On being asked about whether the protection applies to suspension, Nariman said that the protections in Section 4B of the DSPE Act were meant to cover all of that.
Wrong to Have Appointed an Interim Director: Nariman
Nariman also says that it was wrong for an interim director to be appointed by the Centre after divesting Verma of his powers.
Hearing to Resume at 2 pm
Hearing to resume after 2 pm.
Hearing Resumes; Fali Nariman Continues for Alok Verma
Hearing resumes after lunch. Fali Nariman continues to argue on behalf of CBI Director Alok Verma.
Nariman just raised one quick point to counter what Centre said about how Verma and Asthana were "fighting like Kilkenny cats". Centre and CVC used this to justify action against Verma, but Nariman says it is part of Verma's role to investigate even his own officers. @TheQuint— Vakasha Sachdev (@VakashaS) December 6, 2018
Dushyant Dave Argues on Behalf of NGO – Common Cause
Dushyant Dave has stared arguing for NGO Common Cause, which has also challenged the divestment of Verma's powers and functions by the Centre and CVC.
Dave points out that Parliament actually made the selection committee for the CBI Director even more important than the Supreme Court had initially recommended in the Vineet Narain case, by specifying it needed to include CJI, PM and Leader of Opposition. @TheQuint— Vakasha Sachdev (@VakashaS) December 6, 2018
SC Hears Arguments by Intervenors
Supreme Court has started hearing arguments by intervenors in the case, CBI officers AK Bassi and MK Sinha, who were investigating Rakesh Asthana and were transferred by interim Director Nageshwar Rao to Port Blair and Nagpur respectively.
Judgment Reserved in Alok Verma
Supreme Court reserves its order on a plea filed by CBI Director Alok Verma and NGO Common Cause challenging the Center’s decision to divest Verma of his charges.
HC to Hear Asthana's Plea Seeking Quashing of FIR Against Him
Delhi High Court will hear the plea of Rakesh Asthana and others seeking the quashing of FIR lodged against them on Firday, 7 December, reported ANI. The hearing will take place at 2:15 pm.
Alok Verma Denies Allegations Against Him in Reply Copy
Alok Verma, Director CBI, has filed his reply copy in the Court, reported ANI. In his reply, Verma has denied all allegations made by Rakesh Asthana against him.
"Allegations are nothing but imagination of the petitioner. Petition by Asthana is not maintainable and is misconceived. Investigation are at nascent stage. Allegations made in complaint against Asthana and others are very serious and require thorough probe"
He has insisted that the allegations of corruption against Asthana must be investigated thoroughtly so that the public faith in CBI is maintained.
Satish Sana Moves HC, Seeks Protection From Arrest
Satish Sana, a businessman who raised corruption charges against CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana, has approached the Delhi High Court seeking protection from arrest. The high court has listed the matter for Tuesday, 11 December.
HC Seeks CBI Response on Sana's Plea for Hearing Him in Matter Related to Asthana
The Delhi High Court Tuesday, 11 December, sought the CBI's response on a plea by Hyderabad-based businessman Satish Babu Sana seeking to be heard in a matter relating to the quashing of an FIR registered against Special Director Rakesh Asthana on bribery allegations.
Justice Najmi Waziri also sought reply of Asthana, CBI Director Alok Verma and Joint Director A K Sharma on the plea of Sana requesting him to be impleaded as a party in Asthana's petition seeking quashing of the FIR.
Senior advocate Salman Khurshid, appearing for Sana, said the FIR was filed on the basis of his complaint. He was helping the agency in the investigation and should also be heard.
Additional Solicitor General Vikramjit Banerjee and advocate Rajdipa Behura, representing the CBI, said there was no need to implead Sana.
CBI Deputy Superintendent of Police Devender Kumar, earlier the investigating officer in a case involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi, was arrested on the allegations of forgery in recording the statement of Sana, who had alleged to have paid bribe to get relief in the case.
Kumar was granted bail by a Delhi court on 31 October.
Never Met Rakesh Asthana, Charges Against Me Are False: Middleman
Manoj Prasad, the alleged middleman who was arrested by CBI for allegedly asking Rs 5 crore from Hyderabad-based businessman Satish Babu Sana told CNN-News18 that he never met Rakesh Asthana and all charges are false.
#Exclusive | CNN-News18 speaks to Manoj Prasad, who was arrested by CBI for allegedly asking Rs 5 crore from Hyderabad-based businessman Satish Babu Sana. Prasad said he never met Rakesh Asthana, & all charges are false. | Input: @manojkumargupta @nitisha_kashyap | #CBIvsCBI pic.twitter.com/hMgF6zQ7qn— News18 (@CNNnews18) December 13, 2018
SC Approves Asthana’s Appointment as Spl Director
The Supreme Court on Friday, 13 December, approved Rakesh Asthana’s appointment as the Special Director.
An NGO Common Cause had challenged Asthana’s appointment as the CBI Special Director.
Delhi HC Defers Asthana's Plea Seeking Quashing of FIR Against Him
The Delhi High Court on Friday, 14 December, deferred the hearing to Thursday, 20 December on the plea of Rakesh Asthana and Devender Kumar who were seeking the quashing of the FIR against them.
Delhi Court Grants Bail to 'Middleman' Manoj Prasad
A Delhi court on Tuesday, 18 December, granted bail to Manoj Prasad, an alleged middleman arrested in connection with bribery allegations involving CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana.
Special CBI judge Santosh Snehi Mann granted bail to Prasad saying that no purpose will be served by keeping him in further custody, reported PTI.
Prasad, arrested on 17 October, is currently in judicial custody.
The court had on 3 November denied bail to Prasad, saying it was not a fit stage to grant him relief, PTI further reported.
Earlier, Prasad had called the allegations against him a “lie”, saying that he has “never taken the money” and “never-ever met Asthana”.
On October 31, the court had granted bail to co-accused and CBI DSP Devender Kumar after the agency did not oppose his bail petition.
The agency had registered an FIR against Asthana and others on a written complaint of businessman Sathish Sana on 15 October.
Besides Asthana, Prasad and Kumar, another alleged middleman Somesh Prasad has also been named as an accused in the case.
The FIR had alleged that Kumar, then Investigating Officer (IO) in the case against meat exporter Moin Qureshi, repeatedly called the complainant to the CBI office to harass and compel him to pay a bribe of Rs 5 crore for getting a clean chit in the case.
The complaint had also alleged that a part of the bribe was paid by Sana.
CBI Examines Businessman Sathish Sana in Asthana Bribery Case
The CBI on Tuesday, 18 December, examined Hyderabad-based businessman Sathish Babu Sana to verify and corroborate his statement that had formed the basis of its case of bribery against its Special Director Rakesh Asthana, reported PTI.
Sana was called before a new team constituted by interim director M Nageswara Rao immediately after the government sent both CBI Director Alok Verma and Asthana on forced leave in the midnight of 23 October.
Rao had reconstituted the team probing allegations against Asthana and transferred the members of the erstwhile team.
The new team on Tuesday, 18 December called Sana to verify his complaint and asked him to clarify "discrepancies" in his complaint, PTI reported, citing sources.
Nageswara Rao Promoted to Rank of CBI Additional Director
M Nageswara Rao, who is holding post of interim CBI Director, was on Tuesday, 18 December, promoted to the rank of an additional director by the government.
A 1986-batch IPS officer from the Odisha cadre, Rao's name was cleared by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet.
Rao was not considered for the rank of additional director in November 2016 as well as when a review of this batch took place in April 2018, reported PTI.
He had joined the CBI as a joint director in 2016.
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