Special CBI Director Rakesh Asthana and CBI Director Alok Verma
Attorney General KK Venugopal on Wednesday resumed his submissions in the Supreme Court against CBI director Alok Verma’s plea against Centre’s decision to divest him of duties and sending him on leave in view of corruption allegations against him. Venugopal, who is representing the Centre, told the court that the fight between two top officers of the CBI -- Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana -- in public exposed the investigating agency to ridicule.
Verma and Asthana were sent on leave by the government after a tussle between the two came out in public, with both levelling serious accusations of corruption against each other.
On November 29, the top court had said it would first consider whether the government has the power to divest the CBI director of his duties under whatever circumstances or whether the selection committee headed by the Prime Minister should have been approached before moving against Verma on corruption allegations against him.
Here are Attorney General KK Venugopal’s arguments:
# The Centre's main aim was to see that confidence of the public in this premier institution (CBI) is restored, he said.
# "Dispute between CBI Director and Special Director was pulling down integrity and respect of premier institution," he told the bench also comprising Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph.
# "Two top officers, Alok Kumar Verma and Rakesh Asthana, were fighting against each other and went public which exposed CBI to ridicule," Venugopal told the bench.
# The Centre wasn't concerned about any specific complaints of corruption but the fight between the two officers because of which the image of the CBI took a beating, he said.
# “Govt of India was watching with amazement as to what the top officers were doing, they were fighting like cats.“
# “Our main objective is to reinstate the public confidence in the CBI,” the AG said.
# Justice KM Joseph asked the AG: “You say the dispute was in public domain. Did he hold a press conference or a press statement on this?”
# Venugopal said the Centre acted within its jurisdiction. “Had the Centre not intervened, God knows where this infighting between the two top most officers of the CBI would have ended.”
# "Alok Verma hasn't been transferred. Transfer means shifting from one post/office to other which is not the case here. Verma is retaining his designation, bungalow, ETC," he said.
The Supreme Court will resume the hearing on Thursday.
(With PTI inputs)