Opposition ‘vidicated’ by reinstatement of CBI’s Verma; Jaitley says CVC asked for officers’ leave

While the Congress, AAP and CPI(M) criticised the Narendra Modi government, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley explained it was the CVC that had recommended that CBI director Alok Verma and special director Rakesh Asthana be sent on forced leavevindicated


New Delhi: Narendra Modi is the first premier to have “his illegal orders set aside by the Supreme Court”, the Congress said on Tuesday while the CPI(M) asked for the prime minister’s resignation after the apex court reinstated CBI director Alok Kumar Verma.

Other parties, including the RJD and the PDP, joined in to say the apex court had dealt a big blow to the government with its order reinstating Verma and setting aside the Centre’s decision divesting him of his powers and sending him on leave.

Surjewala’s colleague, Mallikarjun Kharge, who is also part of the high powered committee said the order was a lesson for the government. 
“We’re not against one individual and welcome the SC’s judgement… Today, you’ll use these agencies to pressurise people, tomorrow somebody else will, What will happen to democracy then?” Kharge asked while speaking to reporters outside Parliament. 

According to CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, Verma’s reinstatement by the Supreme Court was a “direct indictment” of Modi and his office.

“Will he take responsibility for this blatantly illegal act? If he has any moral conscience he should quit. Accountability, anyone or is it just #jumlas?” Yechury asked on Twitter. 

Echoing Yechury, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also described the order as an indictment of the government.

Welcoming the apex court’s decision, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti said it had restored faith in the independence of institutions.

The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said the Centre should now stop “misusing” investigating agencies like the CBI and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for political ends.

“Time for the Central gov to stop misusing its influence to arm-twist investigative agencies like (the) NIA & CBI for political vendetta,” she added. 

Speaking to reporters outside Parliament, Rashtriya Janata Dal MP Manoj Jha described the order as a “big slap” on the face of the government.

Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan said the Supreme Court order was a partial victory for Verma.

“He has been restored but strangely he has been restrained from taking any policy decisions,” he said. 

Delivering its order, the apex court said any further decision against Verma would be taken by the high-powered committee which selects and appoints the CBI director.

The judgement was pronounced by a bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph.

Verma’s two-year tenure as CBI director ends on 31 January.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday said the decision to send two senior officers of the CBI on leave was taken by the government on the recommendation of the Central Vigilance Commission.

Jaitley, who speaking to reporters in the Parliament complex after the Supreme Court gave orders to reinstate CBI director Alok Verma, said the government would comply with the orders of the apex court. 

“The government took this decision to protect the integrity of the CBI…Government took the action of sending two senior officers of CBI on leave on CVC’s recommendation,” he said, referring to the decision to send Verma and CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana on leave. He said the court has referred the matter to the committee to decide on the issue within one week.

“The court apparently has strengthened the immunity given to the CBI director in the larger interest of the fair and impartial working of the CBI. At the same time, the court has devised an accountability mechanism. The directions of the court will obviously be complied with,” Jaitley said.