Supreme Court sets aside government order and reinstates Alok Verma as CBI Director
New Delhi, January 8, 2019: The Supreme Court on January 8, 2019, backed Alok Verma and reinstated him as CBI director in response to pleas filed by him and NGO Common Cause. The top court set aside the orders of the CVC and the Government of India dated October 23, 2018, which divested Verma of his powers, functions and duties. The appointment of Nageshwara Rao, Joint Director, as interim chief, was also set aside.
Common Cause works for probity in public life and sought an urgent intervention in the matter since it violated the integrity of public institutions.
The court also ruled that a high-powered committee comprising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge will now look into the issue. They have been asked to meet within a week.
The Bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S.K. Kaul, K.M. Joseph ruled that Verma “will cease and desist from taking any major policy decisions,” till the time the selection committee does not reach its decision. Verma is due to retire as CBI Director on January 31, 2019.
Common Cause, in its quest to uphold transparency and integrity of public institutions, had filed a petition in October 2018 challenging the removal of CBI Director Alok Verma.
In its January 8, 2019 verdict, the apex court invoked the landmark Vineet Narain judgment of 2017, in which the SC directions had intended to cocoon the CBI Director from political pressure.
The court also looked at the 2014 amendment to the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013, and observed, “It cannot but be said that the legislative intent in shielding and insulating the office of the Director from any kind of extraneous influence has been foremost in the mind of Parliament which intent found manifestation in the changes in the law brought about in the circumstances noted above.”