The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Central Vigilance Commission to complete its inquiry into allegations against Central Bureau of Investigation Director Alok Verma within two weeks, PTI reported. The top court barred interim director M Nageshwar Rao from taking any policy decisions.
The court was hearing Verma’s plea against the Centre’s decision to send him on leave. Verma had claimed that the CBI’s autonomy was being compromised as “certain investigations into high functionaries do not take the direction that may be desirable to the government”.
The court directed former Supreme Court judge AK Patnaik to oversee the inquiry and called it a matter of national importance. A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph asked the agency to document all decisions made by Rao since his interim appointment and submit it to the court in a sealed cover at the next hearing on November 12.
Verma moved the court on Wednesday morning, hours after the government took the decision to name Rao interim director. It came amid a tussle between Verma and the agency’s Special Director Rakesh Asthana. On October 15, the agency named Asthana in a First Information Report in a bribery case. He was accused of accepting a Rs 2-crore bribe to scuttle an investigation into businessman Moin Qureshi, allegedly involved in multiple corruption cases. Asthana accused Verma of trying to falsely implicate him.
Senior jurist Fali Nariman represented Verma in the court, while former Attorney General of India Mukul Rohatgi represented Asthana, according to News18. Asthana had also moved court on Friday, challenging the order to send him on leave.
The Supreme Court on Friday also issued notices to the CBI, the Centre, Central Vigilance Commission, Verma, Asthana and Rao based on a petition filed by non-governmental organisation Common Cause. The NGO’s plea sought an inquiry by a Special Investigation Team into allegations against CBI officials, including Asthana.
Common Cause accused the government of “brazen interference” in the CBI in order to subvert its functioning.