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SC reserves verdict on CBI chief’s plea

 NEW DELHI, Dec 6 - Observing that the “essence” of every government action must be in the interest of the institution, the Supreme Court asked the Centre and the CVC what was the “grave exigency” that prompted the “overnight” decision to divest Alok Verma of his powers as CBI Director over his bitter feud with Special Director Rakesh Asthana.

The court said this while posing searching questions to the Centre and the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) for waiting for more than three months to intervene in the feud between Verma and Asthana, who is the probe agency’s No. 2.

“Institutions cannot be allowed to crumble,” the court observed while reserving its verdict on the petitions filed by Verma and others challenging the Centre’s October 23 decision to divest him of all powers and sending him on leave.

“The essence of every government action must be in the interest of the institution and to adopt the best course,” said a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.

At one stage, the court asked, “Can there be an acting director?”

Verma’s counsel and senior advocate F S Nariman replied in the affirmative. “Yes”, he said.

The bench than posed another query as to whether the apex court can appoint anyone to head the CBI for which Nariman responded that it can as it has the powers under the Constitution.

The top court reminded the Centre and the CVC that it was not that the fight between Verma and Asthana emerged overnight, forcing the government to divest the director of powers without consulting the Selection Committee comprising the Prime Minister, the leader of the opposition and the Chief Justice of India.

The court noted that the Attorney General KK Venugopal had submitted that the circumstances culminating in the situation had started in July but the Government action came in October. – PTI

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