The top court, however, restrained Verma from taking any major policy decision till the selection committee has disposed off his case.
NEW DELHI — The Supreme Court on Tuesday restored the powers of the CBI Director Alok Verma with immediate effect as it set aside the orders of the Central government to divest him of his powers to function as the head of the investigating agency.
The appointment of M Nageswara Rao, joint director, as interim chief has also been set aside.
While restoring Verma’s powers, a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice K.M. Joseph said that the matter will go to the selection committee, under section 4A of the DSPE Act, which will look into the issue, reports IANS.
Pronouncing the judgement on behalf of Chief Justice Gogoi, Justice Kaul said that the selection committee will meet within seven days from Tuesday and till then Verma will resist from taking any important policy decisions.
The selection committee comprises the Prime Minister, the Leader of Opposition and the Chief Justice of India.
The Supreme Court pronounced the judgement on a plea by the Central Bureau of Investigation Director and NGO Common Cause challenging the government’s decision on the intervening night of October 23-24 to divest Verma of his charge as head of the investigating agency.
“The legislative intent of insulating the CBI director is manifest,” said the two judges who set aside the government’s October 23 order unanimously. The appointment of M Nageswara Rao, joint director, as interim chief has also been set aside.
Alok Verma, who was appointed as CBI Director on January 20, 2017, is retiring on January 19.
The Supreme Court judgement, however, is a set back to Modi government, which has been accused by the opposition of manipulating the CBI and misusing it against rivals
Main Opposition party Congress has welcomed the decision of the Apex court.
“We welcome the Supreme Court’s verdict lambasting the government against their illegal removal of Alok Verma as CBI Director,” said the Congress.
In a tweet Congress has alleged that as Alok Verma was investigating the Rafale scam, so he was illegally removed.
When PM Modi illegally removed CBI Director #AlokVerma from his position he insulted both the Constitution of India & the Indian people. Today’s SC verdict proves that democracy & justice will always triumph, said the Congress.
Arvind Kejriwal tweeted that the court ruling was a “direct indictment” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Modi govt has ruined all institutions and democracy in our country.
Mr Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana, the CBI’s top two officers, were both sent on leave in October in the middle of a bitter feud between them. Mr Asthana remains on forced leave.
(With agency inputs)