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Published On: Tue, Nov 20th, 2018

CBI Row : “None of you deserve a hearing.” Says CJI Ranjan Gogoi

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alok vermaNEW DELHI :Despite repeated attempts by the lawyer for Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director Alok Verma to convince the Supreme Court to hear his case against the government order divesting him of all powers and sending him on leave, the court on Tuesday refused to do so.“What is this? We will not hear you today. None of you deserve a hearing,” Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said as he adjourned the case to 29 November.
Senior Advocate Fali Nariman for Verma clarified to the court that what was carried in the media report did not have the contents of the documents submitted to court in the sealed cover but the reply given to Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) earlier. A visibly irked Chief CJI Gogoi expressed displeasure over a media report by the Wire carrying details of Verma’s response to the inquiry report of the CVC.

“We refused the mentioning yesterday and expressed that the highest degree of confidentiality be maintained. Our respect for the institution is not being shared by people,” Gogoi said.SC was hearing Verma’s challenge to the government’s decision to divest him of all charges, a day after explosive claims were made by an officer against the National Security Adviser, a Union minister and the Central Vigilance Commissioner in the agency’s ongoing power tussle.
As Alok Verma’s lawyer Fali S Nariman sought more time from the Supreme Court to clarify the alleged leakage of his client’s response which were to be submitted confidentially in court, the top court bench headed by CJI has agreed to hear Fali S Nariman’s clarification. Nariman will also mention and clarify on lawyer Gopal Shankar Narayan’s appearance in the case yesterday to seek more time on behalf of Verma.
Verma’s petition will be heard on November 29, the top court said, and repeated itself later. Alok Verma has petitioned the top court against the government’s decision to strip him of his powers and send him on compulsory leave. Last week, the Central Vigilance Commission submitted its report on corruption allegations against him. The report, along with the CBI chief’s response to it — both submitted in a sealed cover — are to be taken up but the court questioned how the contents were “leaked” and published by a news website.
As soon as the hearing began, Chief Justice Gogoi, his displeasure evident, handed some documents to Mr Verma’s lawyer Fali Nariman and said, “You being a senior member, we have given this to you. Please help us. If you want to take some time and respond, please do. We will hear other cases.”
The papers shown to the lawyer were copies of a report carried by news website The Wire. “How did this leak come out? We don’t know,” Mr Nariman said. “For reasons that need not be recorded, we don’t want hearing,” the Chief Justice said.
Mr Nariman replied that he was also disturbed. “This is unacceptable. I am also disturbed. Summon the person who did it. I worked the whole night,” said the 89-year-old senior lawyer.When the hearing resumed, the Chief Justice said: “‘Yesterday we refused the mentioning and we expressed that the highest degree of confidentiality will be maintained, but for some strange reason the papers were taken away and given to everyone.” The judges added, “The court is not a platform. It is a place for adjudication.  We intend to set it right.”
The News Portal The Wire clarified that its story was based on the CBI director’s written response to the vigilance body’s questionnaire, and not his submissions to the court in a sealed cover.When Mr Nariman told the court about the clarification, the Chief Justice said, “We have other documents also. Please see this also”. He handed over another Wire article and said: “We wanted to keep Alok Verma’s response confidential to maintain CBI’s dignity.”
The judges were also upset about details of a petition by another CBI officer, Manish Kumar Sinha, put out across the media. Mr Sinha, one of the transferred CBI officers, came out with allegations against Mr Asthana and top government functionaries like the Law Secretary, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and a Minister of State.
In the last hearing on Friday, the Supreme Court said the CBI chief has not been given a clean chit in the vigilance report. The report is “complimentary on some charges, not-so-complimentary on some charges and very uncomplimentary on some charges,” the court had told Mr Verma.
The CBI director has been accused by his deputy Rakesh Asthana of taking bribe from a Hyderabad-based businessman being investigated by the agency. Mr Verma has accused Mr Asthana of the same crime. As the CBI’s top two accused each other of corruption, they were both sent on forced leave and several officers investigating Mr Asthana were transferred on the night of October 23.(With Agencies Inputs ).

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