'Nobody is Under Any Cloud' | The Supreme Court began hearing Nariman's clarifications on the media leak of Alok Verma's confidential response. Advocate Nariman had expressed concern in court earlier today, saying neither he nor his client had authorised Narayan to seek more time on their behalf. SC refuses to hear any submissions made by other lawyers, says it will only hear Nariman's point of view. "Let us clarify, as far as this court is concerned, nobody is under any cloud," the apex court said.
Verma had on Monday filed his response in the top court on the findings of the CVC into corruption allegations against him. The court had declined Verma’s request to adjourn Tuesday’s hearing.
As Alok Verma's lawyer Fali S Nariman sought more time from the Supreme Court to clarify the alleged leakage of his client's response which were to be submitted confidentially in court, the top court bench headed by CJI has agreed to hear Fali S Nariman's clarification. Nariman will also mention and clarify on lawyer Gopal Shankar Narayan's appearance in the case yesterday to seek more time on behalf of Verma.
Congress Calls for CBI's Autonomy | In view of the ongoing CBI turbulence, Congress leader Manish Tewari has sought the Investigation body's autonomy. "The Centre needs to bring out a rule, which will make the CBI an autonomous. Also, not just the CBI, but even the ED and Income Tax department needs enough autonomy," said Tewari.
SC Adjourns CBI Hearing | Miffed over the lack of confidentiality in Alok Verma's reply to the CVC, the Supreme Court has adjourned the hearing to November 29. The apex court said, "Our efforts was to make sure individual officers are protected and so we asked for confidentiality. But we don't think any of you deserves a hearing."
Besides, it had barred the interim CBI chief, Nageshwar Rao, from taking any major policy decision, but granted him liberty to perform the routine tasks that were essential to keep the CBI functional. On November 4, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge had also moved the top court contending that divesting Verma of his statutory powers and functions was "completely illegal and arbitrary". In an interlocutory application filed in the pending petition, Kharge, who is part of the three member selection committee that appoints the CBI director, said "as a concerned stakeholder", he brought to the attention of the court the "brazen and illegal actions" of the political executive in interfering with the independent functioning of the CBI director.
Alok Verma had approached the apex court challenging the Centre's decision to divest him of his duties and sending him on leave following his feud with Special CBI Director Rakesh Asthana, who has levelled corruption allegations against him. Rakesh Asthana has also been divested of his duties and sent on leave. Pursuant to the top court's order, the CVC's inquiry against Verma was conducted under the supervision of former apex court judge Justice A K Patnaik and the report was filed in the court on November 12. Besides Verma's plea, the court is also seized of a PIL filed by NGO Common Cause, which has sought a probe by a special investigation team against CBI officers.
The apex court, on November 16, had directed Verma, Attorney General K K Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who were also supplied with the confidential report of the CVC, to maintain secrecy, saying it was needed to ensure people's faith in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as an institution. Earlier, the apex court had said the CVC had made some "very uncomplimentary" findings in its probe on corruption allegations against Verma and wanted further investigations into some of the charges which required more time, adding that there were also some "very complimentary" conclusions. Summing up the "exhaustive" confidential report of the CVC given to it, the court ordered that a copy of it, along with the annexure, be given to Verma in a sealed cover.
Alok Verma's Reply Will Deal With CVC Report | "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. "Even though we sought a little time from the court, Verma's reply was filed with the secretary general at 1 pm," the lawyer said. Verma's reply will deal with the CVC report, which was categorised into four parts by the apex court as "complimentary, very complimentary, not so complimentary and very uncomplimentary" for the CBI director.
CBI Chief Alok Kumar Verma Case to Come Up in SC Shortly | CBI Director Alok Kumar Verma filed his response on 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 on 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.
Alok Verma is seen at the Supreme Court in this file image. (PTI Photo)
Verma's reply will deal with the CVC report, which was categorised into four parts by the apex court as "complimentary, very complimentary, not so complimentary and very uncomplimentary" for the CBI director.
Verma had approached the apex court challenging the Centre's decision to divest him of his duties and sending him on leave following his feud with Special CBI Director Rakesh Asthana, who has levelled corruption allegations against him. Asthana has also been divested of his duties and sent on leave.
The feud turned murkier on Monday with senior CBI officer MK Sinha alleging that NSA Ajit Doval, Union minister Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary and CVC KV Chowdhury interfered in the probe against Asthana.
KV Chowdhury did not respond to queries when his reaction was sought while Doval, the National Security Advisor, was not immediately available for comments. The Union minister termed the allegations as baseless and malicious.
Sinha, who was probing the FIR against Asthana, the CBI's number 2, and important cases like the PNB scam involving Nirav Modi, made a litany of sensational allegations in his petition before the Supreme Court that sought urgent hearing for quashing his transfer to Nagpur.
Advocate Sunil Fernandes, appearing for Sinha, informed a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi that his client has "got some shocking revelations" in his petition and had sought urgent listing and hearing Tuesday along with Verma’s plea.
"Nothing shocks us," the bench, also comprising Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph, said, as it ruled out urgent hearing. The court asked Fernandes to be present in the court when it hears Verma's plea.
In his 34-page petition, Sinha, a 2000 batch IPS officer from Andhra Pradesh cadre, alleged that the CBI director briefed Doval on October 17 about registration of a case against Asthana.
Sinha, while supporting the affidavit of Deputy Superintendent of Police officer AK Bassi, who has also been transferred to Andaman and Nicobar Islands, claimed Bassi favoured immediate search of public servants involved in the bribery case (relating to Asthana) but the "Director CBI did not give immediate permission and reverted that the NSA has not permitted the same."
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