The government and the Chief Vigilance Commission today confronted questions in the Supreme Court over the sudden, overnight order to send the CBI’s top two Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana on leave after “tolerating” their fight since July. Yesterday, the government’s lawyer, KK Venugopal, had told the judges that extraordinary circumstances led to the decision since the two officers had been fighting for months like “cats”.
The court questioned the haste to take the step without consulting a selection committee, as is the rule for any action against the CBI chief. “If you had tolerated since July, it is not something that required immediate action as the circumstances were culminating for a long time,” Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi told the Central Vigilance Commission, on whose recommendation the centre put out the order and stripped CBI chief Alok Verma of his powers.
“Extraordinary situations need extraordinary remedies,” the vigilance body replied. “The Central Vigilance Commission’s superintendence (over CBI) encompasses ‘surprise, extraordinary situations’,” it added. “Situations may arise which is not provided in law and authority has to address surprise situations. The CVC will become toothless if it doesn’t act.”
The Supreme Court is hearing Alok Verma’s petition against the government’s action and his response to a vigilance report on him. The case is centred on corruption charges swapped by Alok Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana.