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Justice Sikri Tie-Breaker on Committee Headed by PM on Alok Verma, Congress Wants Meet Delayed

The committee, also comprising Prime Minister Narendra Modi and leader of the single largest opposition party, which in this case would be Congress’ Mallikarjun Kharge, will meet today at 8pm.


Updated:January 9, 2019, 1:46 PM IST

New Delhi: Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has nominated Justice AK Sikri to sit on the high-powered committee that will decide the fate of CBI director Alok Verma.

The committee, also comprising Prime Minister Narendra Modi and leader of the single largest opposition party, which in this case would be Congress’ Mallikarjun Kharge, is scheduled to meet at Lok Kalyan Marg in the national capital at 8pm on Wednesday.

According to sources, Kharge has written to the government seeking postponement of the committee meeting. In his letter, Kharge cited a prior engagement and requested that the meeting be held on Friday.

Justice Sikri will virtually decide Verma's fate as while the Prime Minister is bound to back his government's decision to send Verma on forced leave three months ago, Kharge will almost certainly oppose it. Kharge had even filed a petition in the apex court challenging the government decision to send Verma on leave on October 23.

The CBI chief was reinstated by the Supreme Court on Tuesday, but was stopped from taking any major policy decisions till the high-powered or selection panel rules on the corruption case against him. The CVC report on the cases against Verma will be tabled before the panel at Wednesday's meeting, which will be chaired by PM Modi.

The three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, while setting aside the government order on sending Verma to forced leave, had said that the high-powered committee will be called this week to take a decision on the basis of the findings of the CVC inquiry into the corruption allegations against the CBI director.

Ruling that the government can’t unilaterally send the CBI director on leave, the court had held that the government must take the consent of the committee as the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act was “amended to ensure complete insulation of the office of the CBI Director from external pressures.”

Since Verma is set to retire on January 31, the selection committee will have to take a call in the next few weeks, otherwise the issue becomes infructuous.

Verma and his deputy, special CBI director Rakesh Asthana were both sent on leave on October 23 amid a bitter feud between the CBI's top two as they levelled corruption charges against each other.

Verma challenged the move saying it went against the rules that mandate that the CBI chief has a fixed two-year term in office. The government argued that it had no option but to send both officers on leave since they were fighting like "kilkenny cats".

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| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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