Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its order on a plea filed by CBI Director Alok Verma and NGO common cause challenging the Center's decision to divest Verma of his charges.
"What prompted the government to take an overnight decision on October 23 to divest CBI director Alok Verma of his powers? When Verma was retiring in few months why not wait for few more months and consult selection committee?" the Supreme Court asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who is representing the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) in the case, as hearing over Verma's plea against the decision to send him on sudden leave in a surprise midnight move continued in the apex court on Thursday.
"Government has to be fair, what was the difficulty in consulting the selection committee before divesting Alok Verma of his power? Essence of every government action should be to adopt the best course," Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi told Mehta.
Extraordinary situations need extraordinary remedies: CVC tells Supreme Court
During the hearing of CBI Director Alok Verma's plea, the Central Vigilance Commission told the Supreme Court that 'extraordinary situations need extraordinary remedies'.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the CVC, referred to apex court verdicts and laws governing the CBI and said the Commission's superintendence (over the CBI) encompasses "surprise, extraordinary situations".
"CVC started probe but Verma did not give documents for months," Mehta told the court.
'Fighting like kilkenny cats'
The government had on Wednesday told the top court that Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana were fighting like 'kilkenny cats', exposing the country's premier investigating agency to 'public ridicule'.
Attorney General (AG) KK Venugopal also told the bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi that the government was well "within its right to intervene" and send both officers on leave by divesting them of their powers. The top law officer also asserted that "only the God knows where and how this fight between the two top officers would have ended" if the government would not have taken the action which was aimed at restoring the public faith in the CBI.
"The government was watching with amazement. The two top most officers were fighting like kilkenny cats...Dispute between the CBI Director and Special Director was pulling down integrity and respect of premier institution," Venugopal told the bench, also comprising Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph. "Fight like a Kilkenny cat" refers to an old Irish story about two cats who fought to the death and ate each other up such that only their tails were left. It is often used figuratively of two people who are vehemently opposed in attitudes or opinions to the extent that they will never agree and will spark fire off each other whenever they meet.
Reacting to Verma's submissions and allegations that the government has not taken any independent decision and only relied upon the order of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) in sending him on leave, the AG referred to provisions of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act and the CVC Act to say that the CVC and the Centre have the power of superintendence over CBI.