But the court questioned the action of Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) against CBI director Alok Verma. A bench comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi and justices SK Kaul and KM Jospeh said, “This situation that prompted CVC to take the action [of divesting Verma of his powers as CBI director] did not happen overnight.”
“If you [CVC] could have tolerated it since July, it is not that you were forced to take a decision immediately.”, said the court.
The Centre while justifying it’s action said, “It had acted well within its jurisdiction and didn’t have much of a choice, saying the two officers were fighting like “cats.” ”
The court questioned the solicitor general of India Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the CVC, “Essence of every government action is to do what is acceptable. If you have two courses of action – one acceptable and other more acceptable – what stopped the government from taking the more acceptable option.”
Mehta in his defence said, “Every all-India service officer is covered by the CVC Act. The commission has the power of superintendence over the officers. The CBI director was an Indian Police Service officer and the conduct rules for all-India service officers applied to him, too.”
He added, “Suppose a person is caught red handed taking a bribe or misbehaving with a lady, immediate action has to be taken. There needs to be some provision by which CVC can act ,which is not envisaged by the statute.”
He further justified, “Two officers instead of investigating serious cases were investigating each other, were raiding each other.”
“Jurisdiction to inquire and act against officers is vested in CVC and CVC would have been guilty of dereliction of duty if I would not have acted. I would have been answerable to the President, legislature and even this court. CVC acted in a non-partisan way,” he said.
Additional solicitor general P Narsimha, who appeared for CBI, while opposing Verma’s contention said a difference existed “between a simple transfer and transfer on the grounds of disciplinary action.”
“Moreover, the CVC could act under the powers of supervision vested with it,” he said.
Senior advocate Fali Nariman , who is Verma’s counsel asserted, “I am a CBI director only on my visiting card. I must continue to hold office and not just [the] post. Transfer doesn’t mean transfer in service jurisprudence, it must be seen in its ordinary meaning. If CVC and government orders are seen, all functions (of the CBI director) have been taken away.”
“The government must in all circumstances go to the high-powered committee of the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition and Chief Justice of India for a call on the CBI director,” Nariman said.