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The law does not allow Modi govt to remove CBI chief Alok Verma

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Modi govt says it sent Alok Verma on leave on recommendation of CVC. But the CVC can’t do this unless officer is booked under Prevention of Corruption Act.

New Delhi: Even if one buys into the Narendra Modi government’s claim that it sent CBI director Alok Verma on leave at the behest of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), a simple question still begs to be asked. Does it have the power to do that? The simple answer is, no.

The government’s claim would probably not have drawn so much attention had it not transferred only those officers who were close to Verma, or those who were handling high-profile cases that could’ve reached the Prime Minister’s Office.

Also read: Behind CBI’s No. 1 versus No. 2 battle is also a turf war in Modi’s PMO

The fact that it sent Verma on leave and then sent the officer investigating corruption charges against special director Rakesh Asthana to Port Blair is what has raised questions.

But, most importantly, the government, even on the asking of the CVC, has no power to send the CBI chief on leave.

Lines that were crossed

Apart from the little matter of the CBI chief having a fixed two-year tenure, what is also important is that the landmark 1998 Supreme Court judgment in the Vineet Narain & Others vs Union of India case clearly states that the transfer of “an incumbent director, CBI, in an extraordinary situation, including the need for him to take up a more important assignment, should have the approval of the selection committee”.

Also read: Modi has been fixated with IPS officers and that’s hurt him badly

However, since then, the manner of appointment of the CBI director has also changed. Under the Lokpal Act, 2013, the CBI director is to be appointed on the recommendation of a committee consisting of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India or a judge of the Supreme Court nominated by him.

Did that committee meet Tuesday and recommend any action against Verma?

It is the settled law that, unless otherwise prescribed, only the selecting/appointing authority can remove a person. But, since he enjoys a fixed tenure, the CBI chief can’t be removed without a proper inquiry. And, sending him on forced leave is akin to removal.

Also read: All you wanted to know about the war in CBI between Rakesh Asthana and Alok Verma

Lastly, the power of superintendence and supervision that the CVC enjoys over the CBI is limited to the investigation of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Verma has so far not been booked under any case, least of all under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

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  1. Prof PK Sharma, Freelance Journalist,Barnala(Punjab)

    Mr.Chhibber, what you are saying in principle is all fine ?
    But you are overlooking the age and era in which we are now all putting up?
    It is an age where the polity supposed to honour the rule of law is feeling proud of throwing it to winds with impunity!
    Some couple of years back, I too like you and many others in the nation was a votary of the rule of law concept !
    But experience, you see is a great teacher and I then came to the conclusion of believing in the conviction that in our polity you cannot
    rule out anything as nothing is hard and fast in our system ! Here, in our law of the land anything can happen anytime not according to norms but as per the convenience and suitability !

    Is not now fair turning foul and foul turning fair instantly?

    Do not we need strong candle lights and high voltage torches to dig and then find out TRUTH ?

    Though the issues of the rule of law you are raising are indeed justified and valid in the letter and spirit yet ironically feeling the pulse of time these seem to be reflecting contours of highest hypothetical order !

    How much the Defence Minister-the defence secretary, the Foreign Minister-the Foreign Secretary, the Home Minister-the Home Secretary, many other organs, instruments and institutions have been now relevant-meaningful all these years can be any body’s guess or view-point ?

    Did the Rafale Fighter Aircraft altered- renegotiated deal, Demonetisation, GST, Foreign Policy formulation and RBI/Banks functioning adhere to stipulated and set norms and laws ?

    Does not it appear that now we have these days grown so mature, wise, educated, advanced and enlightened that we do not need to rely upon law, constitution and institutions ?

    Have not we entered at present a phase in the annals of our nation where willingly or reluctantly we ought to admit the fact,
    ” The word of the King is law. ”

    Who the KING is
    Chibber Sahib, you and almost all of us very well know ?

    Prof PK Sharma, Freelance Journalist
    Pom Anm Nest,Barnala (Punjab)

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