The Supreme Court on Friday gave the Central Vigilance Commission two weeks to complete its investigation into allegations against Central Bureau of Investigation Director Alok Verma, who moved court on Wednesday against the Centre’s decision to send him on leave.
The court barred interim CBI Director M Nageshwar Rao from taking policy decisions in the meantime, and instructed the agency to submit on November 12 a list of all decisions he has taken since October 23.
The Congress party staged protests outside CBI offices across the country, demanding Verma’s reinstatement. Rahul Gandhi, who led the demonstrations in New Delhi, courted arrest and was later released.
6.30 pm: CBI spokesperson says Supreme Court order will be followed in letter and spirit and legal opinion will be sought if necessary, reports ANI.
6.03 pm: Senior leaders of the Kerala Congress march to the CBI office in Thiruvanathapuram as part of the nationwide agitation, reports PTI. Leader of Opposition in the assembly Ramesh Chennithala claims that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the “most corrupt politician” the country has ever seen.
“The CBI, the country’s highest investigating agency, has lost its glory and pride,” he says.
6 pm: Several Congress workers are taken into custody after they try to march to the Income Tax department office in Vijayawada, reports PTI. Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee President Raghuveera and party secretary Sheik Mastanvali are among those taken into custody and driven to Bhavanipuram Police Station.
The workers were attempting a march to the I-T department office as there is no CBI office in the city.
5.07 pm: AICC General Secretary RC Khuntia, who led protests in Telangana, says “the confidence in government has gone” because of efforts to suppress the inquiry into the Rafale deal, reports The Indian Express.
The Congress, Telugu Desam Party and Communist Party of India staged protests outside the CBI office in Hyderabad.
5.01 pm: Police in Gujarat detain over 40 Congress leaders and workers, including eight MLAs, for protesting outside the CBI office in Gandhinagar, reports Hindustan Times.
4.19 pm: Delhi Deputy Commissioner of Police (South) Vijay Kumar says eight Congress leaders and 150 workers were detained for 20 minutes for protesting in front of the CBI headquarters, reports ANI. They were later released.
3.53 pm: Odisha Congress chief Niranjan Patnaik alleges that there has been no progress in the investigation into the multi-crore chit fund scam in the state, reports PTI. The inquiry was monitored by Rakesh Asthana.
“The investigation into the scam has been slowed down to shield ruling BJD members, with support from the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre,” he says.
3.34 pm: Congress chief Rahul Gandhi leaves Lodhi Colony police station after being detained for protesting in front of the CBI headquarters in Delhi, reports The Indian Express.
3 pm: “People of this country have realised what [the] PM has done,” News 18 quotes Gandhi as saying. “Changing the CBI director will not work. They can arrest me as many times as they want.”
2.56 pm: “PM can run, he can hide but in the end, truth will be revealed,” says Congress President Rahul Gandhi, according to ANI. Gandhi says the prime minister has acted against the CBI chief. “It was an act out of panic.”
2.50 pm: Former Attorney General and Rakesh Asthana’s counsel Mukul Rohatgi says Alok Verma’s main point that he had been removed by an incompetent authority has been lost, reports News 18.
According to the Supreme Court order, CBI chief Alok Verma will be probed by CVC, says Rohatgi. “Special director Rakesh Asthana is not a part of that investigation. There is no case against him.”
2.40 pm: Former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee says the Supreme Court’s order is sensible and pragmatic, reports News 18.
2.28 pm: Detained Congress leaders taken to Lodhi Colony police station, reports Hindustan Times.
2.21 pm: Rakesh Asthana’s counsel Mukul Rohatgi says the faith of the common man in the CBI has been shattered, reports News 18.
2.10 pm: “I think we can acknowledge with gratitude the Supreme Court’s alacrity in which it has saved the institutions of our land,” says Congress leader Salman Khurshid, according to News 18. “There has been serious doubt cast over the last few days on the independence and authority of the CBI.”
1.56 pm: Rahul Gandhi and other Congress leaders have been arrested, says party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala.
1.52 pm: “The government order to remove the CBI chief came at midnight, why?” asks Ashok Gehlot. “The nation will not tolerate such kind of behaviour,” he adds.
1.50 pm: Congress leaders Ashok Gehlot and Pramod Tiwari are accompanying Rahul Gandhi to the Lodhi Road police station, reports News18.
1.47 pm: “All officers of the CBI, particularly the top two officers like Caesar’s wife must be beyond suspicion,” says Arun Jaitley.
1.46 pm: In an address to the demonstrators outside the CBI headquarters earlier, Gandhi said the Congress would not allow the “chowkidaar [watchman] – a reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi – to do “chori [theft]”, reports PTI.
1.43 pm: Congress President Rahul Gandhi is going to the Lodhi Road police station in New Delhi to court arrest, reports News18.
1.40 pm: The Union finance minister admits recent developments eroded the CBI’s credibility, reports ANI. “CVC in the interest of fairness passed an order that till investigations are pending against two top officers of CBI, they must step aside and recuse themselves from CBI functioning till inquiry is over,” he adds.
1.39 pm: “Today the Supreme Court has further strengthened the fairness criteria,” Jaitley adds. “They fixed a time limit and in order to ensure that highest standard of fairness are maintained even in the inquiry they have appointed a retired judge to ensure that the CVC inquiry is extremely fair.”
1.37 pm: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley says the Supreme Court order is an “extremely positive development”, reports PTI. “Government has no interest for or against any individual,” ANI quotes him as saying. “Government is interested in maintaining professionalism, image and constitutional integrity of CBI.”
1.25 pm: “We want to tell the people inside the CBI headquarters that we are not attacking them,” News18 quotes Rahul Gandhi as saying. “It is the prime minister who is attacking them. The PM has removed the CBI director out of fear.”
1.24 pm: In Hyderabad, the Telugu Desam Party has backed the Congress’ protest, reports News18. Here is a photo of Congress workers demonstrating against the decision to send CBI chief Alok Verma on forced leave.
1.17 pm: The police have started detaining Congress workers in New Delhi, reports ANI.
1.14 pm: Security personnel have detained a protestor near the CBI headquarters in New Delhi, reports News18. Here is a video of the protest march tweeted by ANI:
1.04 pm: The gates of the CBI headquarters in New Delhi have been closed, reports News18.
12.56 pm: BJP spokesperson Nalin S Kohli reacts to the Supreme Court’s order. “I am unable to understand how this is a defeat for the government,” News18 quotes him as saying. “There has been no reversal of the government’s decision; we should wait for the process to happen.”
12.48 pm: The police have used water cannon to stop Congress workers protesting in Chandigarh, reports ANI.
12.47 pm: Congress President Rahul Gandhi climbed on to a truck after protestors were stopped outside CBI headquarters, reports News18.
12.45 pm: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh says Congress is taking up “non issues” as it does not have any “people’s issues to raise”. Everyone should wait for the investigation report, he adds.
12.42 pm: “Truth prevails in Supreme Court,” tweets Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala. “Modi government’s sinister attempt to capture CBI through lackeys falls flat. A slap in face of tyrants who wanted to pin the last nail in CBI’s independence.”
12.32 pm: Congress President Rahul Gandhi is leading the party’s protest march in New Delhi.
12.09 pm: Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, informing him that the removal of CBI Director Alok Verma is illegal and it can only be done with the consent of the selection committee. The committee comprises the prime minister, the leader of the Opposition and the chief justice of India.
11.53 am: Congress leader Anand Sharma, Communist Party of India leader D Raja and veteran politician Sharad Yadav seen outside the Dyal Singh College in New Delhi ahead of the Opposition’s protest march to the CBI headquarters.
11.50 am: Supreme Court issues notices to the Centre, Central Bureau of Investigation, Central Vigilance Commission, Rakesh Asthana, Alok Verma and M Nageshwar Rao on NGO Common Cause’s plea, reports PTI.
The NGO filed a plea seeking a Special Investigation Team inquiry into corruption allegations against officials of the agency.
11.48 am: List of all decisions taken by M Nageshwar Rao have to be placed in a sealed cover on November 12.
11.41 am: All decisions taken since October 23, including those related to investigations and transfers of officers, should be submitted to the court in sealed cover at the next hearing, the court has said.
11.32 am: The Central Vigilance Commission inquiry has to be conducted under supervision of retired Supreme Court judge AK Patnaik in two weeks. The court issues notices to the Centre, the commission and the Central Bureau of Investigation.
11.31 am: Rakesh Asthana’s counsel Mukul Rohatgi tells the court that his client has filed a petition challenging Centre’s decision. “You file a separate writ,” Gogoi tells Rohatgi. “I have, please keep my writ on Monday,” the lawyer responds.
11.30 am: But court says it cannot allow this matter to prolong in the interest of country.
11.29 am: Tushar Mehta says 10 days may not be enough for the CVC to conduct inquiries. He seeks more time.
11.28 am: Interim Director Nageswara Rao will not take any policy decisions, he can do only routine work, Live Law quotes Gogoi as saying.
11.25 am: “At this stage inquiry will be only to find out whether there is a prima facie case,” says Gogoi. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta seeks more time. “Please give me three weeks,” Bar and Bench quotes him as saying.
11.23 am: “We will examine it,” ANI quotes Gogoi as saying. “The only thing we have to see is what kind of an interim order has to be passed,”
11.22 am: Nariman cites to amendment to Delhi Special Police Establishment Act. Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi says that enquiry by the Central Vigilance Commission should be completed in 10 days and will be supervised by a Supreme Court judge, reports Bar and Bench.
11.20 am: Fali S Nariman opens arguments for CBI Director Alok Verma, reports Live Law. “Present case is concerned with whether his tenure of two years could be breached at any time,” he says.
11.19 am: In Delhi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi was scheduled to lead a protest march from Dayal Singh College on Lodhi Road to the CBI headquarters at 11 am.
11.16 am: ANI tweets images of the Congress’ protests outside the CBI office in Bihar’s capital Patna.
11.14 am: Rakesh Asthana’s plea was filed through advocate Amit Anand Tiwari, who has been the CBI’s lawyer in the Supreme Court, reports Bar and Bench.
11.07 am: The Congress’ protests have begun. Party workers demonstrate outside the CBI office in Bengaluru in Karnataka.
11.05 am: CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana has now moved Supreme Court, challenging the government’s decision to send him on leave, reports Bar and Bench.
10.40 am: Security has been tightened outside CBI headquarters in Delhi ahead of Congress protest, says ANI. Security was earlier increased outside CBI offices in other parts of the country too. The Trinamool Congress will join the protest.
10.30 am: Former Attorney General and senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who is representing Rakesh Asthana says it is just one more case, reports ANI. “What is big about it? It is not as important as you think it is.”
10.05 am: The top court will also hear a plea by non-governmental organisation Common Cause, seeking a Special Investigation Team inquiry into corruption allegations against officials of the agency, including Asthana. Common Cause has accused the government of “brazen interference” in the CBI in order to subvert its functioning. Senior lawyer Dushyant Dave will represent the NGO.
10 am: Senior jurist Fali Nariman will represent Verma, while former Attorney General of India Mukul Rohatgi will represent Asthana. Attorney General KK Venugopal appear in the court for the Centre and the CBI.