From Nariman to Rohatgi, Top Legal Eagles Step in As Alok Verma Plea Comes up in Supreme Court
New Delhi: With just about an hour to go for the crucial SC hearing of CBI director Alok Verma's plea where he has questioned government interference in divesting him of his powers and sending him on a forced leave, legal luminaries have been roped in to flex the argumentative muscle in the top court on Friday.
Verma says the government order stripping him off his duties at the agency and appointing an interim chief in his place was a violation of his fundamental right. He filed the writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, as per which individuals may seek redressal for any violation of their fundamental rights.
Starting off the battle for CBI director Alok Verma would be Senior Advocate Fali S Nariman and Sanjay Hegde.
It was eminent jurist Fali S Nariman who had stated that Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra “may not” have been able to defend the institution and that he should have reached out to the four judges, who held a press conference in January to speak out against the administration of the top court by the CJI.
On the other side, Former Attorney General of India and Senior lawyer Mukul Rohatgi would be representing CBI special director Rakesh Asthana. Mukul Rohatgi would also counter the PIL filed by Common cause today.
Common Cause’s PIL moved by Advocate Prashant Bhushan seeks SC monitored probe into the corruption allegations against CBI top officials.
It seeks the removal of Rakesh Asthana from the post of CBI Special Director in view of the recent FIR registered against him on allegation of acceptance of bribe to derail investigation against Moin Qureshi. Attorney General KK Venugopal and Solicitor General of India, Tushar Mehta would be arguing for the Chief Vigilance Commission and the Government of India.
In his petition, Verma emphasised the need to allow the CBI "to function completely independently and autonomously". "There are bound to be occasions when certain investigations into high functionaries do not take the direction that may be desirable to the government," said Verma.
The CBI director has also stated that CBI as an institution must be away from government influence, however the recent act of government stripping him of powers point to a situation where there is a need for giving CBI separate independence than DoPT.
"The CBI ought to be insulated from the government. The present actions give serious credence to the requirement that the CBI be given independence from the DoPT, which seriously hinders the functioning of the institution," said Verma.
Even Rakesh Asthana has approached the Delhi High Court against the FIR lodged against him by the CBI alleging cases of corruption stating that under Section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption Act, a public servant like him cannot be slapped with a FIR before the government gives a nod. However, Verma has mentioned Asthana too in the petition but has not named him.
Verma had stated that the CBI special director posed "hurdles" at the CBI. "Over the recent past, although all functionaries within the CBI... have agreed on a certain course of action, the special director has been of a different view," said Verma in his petition.