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CBI vs CBI: SC reserves order after hearing arguments at length

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New Delhi, Dec 6: The Supreme Court sought to know why the CVC and the government did not consult the panel headed by the Prime Minister before divesting CBI director, Alok Verma of his powers.

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The essence of every government administration is to do what is acceptable. If there are 2 options then one is acceptable and the other more acceptable, Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi observed. What stopped the government taking the more acceptable option, the CJI also said.

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Further Justice Gogoi said that the point made by Verma is what was the difficulty in consulting the PM led panel. Alok Verma had a 2 year tenure and this was recommended by the panel. So if you wanted something, why did you not consult the panel, the CJI also remarked.

The situation which prompted CVC to take action against Verma was there since July and did not occur overnight. When you had tolerated the situation since July what was it that required you to take a decision overnight on October 23.

Solicitor General, Tushar Mehta appearing for the CV said that the CVC had come to a conclusion that an extraordinary situation had arisen. An extraordinary situation needs an extraordinary remedy. CVC's superintendence (over the CBI) encompasses "surprise, extraordinary situations"

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Section 4(1) of DSPE Act, which controls the CBI functioning, says CVC superintendence over CBI is restricted to probes in corruption cases. Can Section 8 of CVC Act go beyond S. 4 of DSPE Act, the CJI sought to know.

On Wednesday, Attorney General, K K Venugopal said that the image of the agency was taking a beating due to the fight between Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana and this is why they were exiled.

The government had to intervene because the fight was not private. They brought ridicule to the CBI. The issues could have been kept private and sorted out in-house, Venugopal also said.

After examining the material carefully and also taking into consideration the issues, the Centre was satisfied that a situation had arisen where action needed to be taken, the AG also said. The prime intention was to ensure that public confidence in the institution remained intact, Venugopal also said.

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They fought like Kilkenny cats- two cats fought till their death and ate each other up such that only their tails were left, the AG also said.

After the AG concluded his arguments, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta arguing for the CVC said the only limitation the CVC has is that cannot ask the CBI to decide a case in a particular manner. He said that Centre can make a reference to the CVC for inquiry against the CBI officials.

Not only does the CVC have the power to act, bit it was also obligated under the CVC Act to do so.

After hearing arguments at length the court has reserved its orders.

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