New Delhi, December 3: The Central government on Monday refuted speculation that it was planning to appoint a police officer as an officer on special duty or a senior IAS officer to oversee the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
A statement issued by the personnel ministry on Monday said reports that the government was considering the two options to end the alleged policy paralysis in CBI are “absolutely false”.
“The Government of India strongly refutes this imputation. It is clarified that the Government has taken the step of divesting the present Director and Special Director of the CBI of their powers under section 4(2) of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 as an interim measure,” the statement said.
It further went on to say that since the matter was sub judice before the Supreme Court, “any action that is to be taken will be strictly in accordance with the decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the pending proceedings and not before the Hon’ble Supreme Court decides the matter.”
The Supreme Court is hearing two petitions – one by Alok Verma and the second by a non-profit organization Common Cause — on whether the move to strip the CBI director of his responsibilities was legal.
The controversy stems from a feud between director Alok Verma and special director Rakesh Asthana, the agency’s two top officers who have accused each other of corruption. Both were removed in a midnight drama on October 23 after the battle between the two threw the agency into chaos.
The government asked M Nageswar Rao, a 1986-batch Orissa cadre officer and the senior-most joint director of the Central Bureau of Investigation, to look after the duties and functions of the CBI director.
Meanwhile, Verma had gone to the Supreme Court to challenge the legality of his removal. While hearing his petition, the court had asked the Central Vigilance Commission, which was probing a complaint against Verma by Asthana, to complete the investigation within two weeks.
In his petition, Verma has challenged the grounds on which he was sidelined and said the move was “patently illegal” and an attempt to undermine the federal agency’s independence.
The petition by Common Cause, filed by advocate Prasanth Bhushan, said the CVC’s October 23 recommendation by which Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) divested Verma of his powers were for “malafide reasons” and should be quashed. The “chain of events shows that Verma is being victimised for taking action against Asthana, a Gujarat cadre officer, and also for entertaining complaint against the top functionaries of the present government,” stated the petition.
The Supreme court is scheduled to hear the case again on December 5. (Courtesy: HT)