In a jolt to the centre, the Supreme Court on Tuesday reinstated Alok Verma as CBI director quashing its unprecedented "overnight" order stripping him of his powers and sending him on leave after he and his deputy traded corruption charges sparking a bitter feud.
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The court, however, clipped Verma's wings saying that on reinstatement he will cease and desist from taking any major policy decision till the high-powered committee, which selects the CBI chief, considers the issue of "divestment of power and authority". Verma's two-year tenure as CBI director ends on January 31.
Asking the committee to meet within a week, the court said it was "still open" for the panel to consider the matter involving Verma since the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) is probing charges of corruption against him. The committee comprises the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India and the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
CNBC-TV18 caught up with Narendra Taneja, BJP spokesperson; Adil Singh Boparai, Congress spokesperson; Shantonu Sen, former joint director of CBI; Prashant Bhushan, public interest lawyer at the Supreme Court and Vikas Singh, senior advocate, to discuss the fine print of the judgement.
Taneja said, "First of all, the government did not remove him, he was sent on leave. There is a huge difference between removal and a person being sent on leave. The government did on the recommendation of CVC, which is an autonomous organisation. The government was caught between the two autonomous organisations i.e. CVC and CBI. The view of Supreme Court is very balanced, we respect it and everything would be complied with. This was an extraordinary situation and therefore the government had to take an extraordinary remedy."
Boparai said, "Congress' position stands vindicated. I would like to jog your memory to what BJP had said when this entire issue had broken out, that forced leave does not tantamount to transfer. Congress at that point had quoted the Vineet Narain judgement and said that this virtually amounts to transfer and divesting of authority. But the BJP continued to pedal a false narrative. Today, our stand vindicated on that point. The order passed by the CVC and DOPT have been struck down by SC. If Narendra Modi has an iota of constitutional morality left, I think he must resign."
Sen said, "Alok Verma's position virtually is the same as if he was on leave. He is not given the powers of the director. The Supreme Court has virtually maintained what the CVC and the government have done but very wisely the it has protected the institution.
Prashant Bhushan said, "Supreme Court has made it very clear that both its judgement in Vineet Narain as well as the law that was made consequent to that have insulated the functioning of the CBI director from executive interference and therefore it has inter-seated the high powered committee headed Prime Minister, leader of opposition and Chief Justice, without whom you cannot touch the director. So, that legal position has been made very clear by the Supreme Court."