Extraordinary situations need extraordinary remedies, these are the words the Central Vigilance Commission told the Supreme Court on Thursday during the hearing of CBI Director Alok Verma’s plea against the Centre’s decision to divest him of powers and send him on leave.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the CVC, referred to the apex court judgements and laws governing the CBI and said the Commission’s superintendence (over the CBI) encompasses “surprise, extraordinary situations”.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said Attorney General K K Venugopal told it that circumstances culminating in the situation started in July.
Advocate Fali Nariman for CBI Director Alok Verma told the court, ‘In all circumstances they must consult the selection committee. Transfer in this case doesn’t mean transfer in service jurisprudence. Transfer doesn’t only mean one place to another.”
Nariman added, “There cant be an acting Chief Justice of India, there has to be a Chief Justice of India as per the constitution. Same situation here, they can’t have an acting director of CBI.”
CJI Ranjan Gogoi asks, “If there is an exigent issue situation can the Supreme Court appoint an acting director?” Nariman replied, “Yes, the Supreme Court can appoint because the final arbiter of the Constitution is the SC.”
The SC bench added that the essence of the government action must be in the interest of the institution. The top court said it was not that the fight between the CBI director and Special Director Rakesh Asthana emerged overnight, forcing the government to divest the director of powers without consulting the Selection Committee.
It further said the government has to be “fair” and asked what the difficulty was in consulting the Selection Committee before divesting the CBI director of his power.