Supreme Court reinstates Alok Verma as CBI chief: Know about events that led to this decision

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

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday reinstated Alok Kumar Verma as CBI Director and set aside the Centre’s decision divesting him of his powers and sending him on leave.

The top court, however, restrained Verma from taking any major policy decision till the Central Vigilance Commission inquiry is over.

The apex court also said that any further decision against Verma would be taken by the high-powered committee which selects and appoints CBI Director.

The judgement was pronounced by a bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph.

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

Here is what transpired in CBIvsCBI row up until now:

  • September 20, 2018: The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) initiates a fact-finding probe against CBI Director Alok Verma based on a complaint filed by Rakesh Asthana. In his complaint, Asthana alleged that Verma had sought to impede his functioning, interfere in investigations and malign his reputation on the basis of unverified facts. He also claimed that Verma had asked him to call off planned raids against RJD supremo Lalu Prasad in Patna the previous year at the eleventh hour when raiding teams were already in place. According to the ET report, Asthana’s complaint against Verma was first made to the government, which then referred the matter to the CVC after detailed consultations.
  • September 21, 2018: CBI says Rakesh Asthana’s complaint to the CVC against its chief Alok Verma is “malicious” and “frivolous”. It terms the complaint against the CBI chief by Asthana as ‘intimidation’ of officers probing the former’s role in at least six cases.
  • September 24: Alok Verma, senior CBI officials met Central Vigilance Commissioner K V Chowdary and submitted some documents in the matter.
  • October 4, 2018: Lawyer Prashant Bhushan and former Union minister Arun Shourie meet CBI Director Alok Verma, demanding a probe into alleged corruption in the Rafale aircraft deal and offset contract.
  • Along with a “detailed” complaint under the Prevention of Corruption Act, Bhushan and Shourie submitted documents buttressing their argument for the need of probe.
  • October 9, 2018: Reports claim that the government is ‘unhappy’ with the CBI Director over his meeting with Arun Shourie, Prashant Bhushan. In their meeting, Shourie, a vocal critic of the Modi government, and Bhushan, a former Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader, had asked the CBI Director to take the government’s permission to initiate a probe in accordance with the law, alleging that the offset contract for Rafale aircraft was actually a commission to an Anil Ambani-led Reliance group subsidiary.
  • October 16, 2018: The CBI arrests Manoj Prasad, believed to be a middleman, when he returned from Dubai on October 16.
  • October 21, 2018: Rakesh Asthana ‘booked’ in bribery case: CBI booked Asthana on the allegations of receiving a bribe from an accused probed by him in a case linked to meat exporter Moin Qureshi – a charge levelled by the officer on CBI Director Alok Verma in his complaint to the Cabinet Secretary.
  • October 22, 2018: CBI arrests deputy SP Devender Kumar in bribery case involving Asthana. AccordQureshithe CBI, Kumar had fabricated the statement of Sathish Sana, a witness in the Quershi case, showing he recorded the statement on Septemebr 26, 2018 in Delhi. However, investigation has revealed that Sana was was not in Delhi, he was in Hyderabad on that day and joined the investigation only on October 1, 2018.
  • October 22: PM Modi summons Alok Verma and Asthana. According to reports, the two officials are told to make amends as the image of the organisation has taken a beating in the public eye, a point opposition parties made in their criticism.
  • October 23: Rakesh Asthana moves Delhi HC on FIR against him in bribery case.
  • October 23: CBI DSP Devender Kumar sent to 7-day police custody.
  • October 23: CBI claims in court that an ‘extortion’ racket was being run from the HQ in the garb of investigation.
  • October 23: Asthana gets interim protection from arrest till October 29.
  • October 24: CBI Director Alok Verma, Special Director Rakesh Asthana sent on leave. M Nageshwar Rao appointed interim CBI director with immediate effect.
  • October 24: CBI reshuffles team probing the case against Asthana.
  • October 24: Alok Verma moves Supreme Court against govt order.
  • October 24: Opposition slams the government for sending Alok Verma on leave. Rahul Gandhi says that by sending Verma on “forced leave” for collecting documents on the Rafale “scam”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had given out a clear message that anyone coming close to unravelling the truth behind the defence deal would be “wiped out”.
  • October 25: Four men from the Intelligence Bureau were caught outside the official residence of CBI Director Alok Verma, who had been divested of his powers and sent on leave, officials said. While Home Ministry officials said the four men were on “routine, covert” duties in the high-security area outside Verma’s 2 Janpath residence, sources said they were taken away by police and questioned.
  • October 25: NGO moves SC challenging Alok Verma’s removal: A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Sanjay Krishan Kaul and K.M. Joseph said “we will see” as counsel Prashant Bhushan sought an urgent hearing as some broader issues had been raised in the PIL by NGO Common Cause.
  • October 26: After Alok Verma, Rakesh Asthana moves SC against forced leave.
  • October 26: CJI-led Bench hears Alok Verma’s plea against Centre’s move. The apex court set a deadline of two weeks for CVC to complete the inquiry against CBI Director Alok Kumar Verma. The court directed that the inquiry be conducted under the supervision of a retired apex court judge and also barred IPS officer M Nageswara Rao, who has been given interim charge of looking after the duties of the CBI Director, from taking any policy decision or any major decision. It said a list of decisions taken by Rao from October 23 till today, including transfer of investigations and change of investigating officers, be placed before the court in a sealed cover by November 12 – the next date of hearing – after which it would pass appropriate orders.
  • October 29: HC slams CBI, Centre for not filing a reply on Asthana’s plea.
  • November 8: Alok Verma meets CVC, denied corruption charges against him.
  • November 9: Alok Verma appears before CVC, counters corruption charges.
  • November 12: After CVC submitted the report, SC adjourns court proceedings. A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice S K Kaul takes the report on record and fixes the next hearing on November 16. Interim CBI Director M Nageswar Rao also files a report on decisions taken by him since October 23 as head of the agency.
  • November 16: SC hears CBI Director Alok Verma’s plea challenging govt’s order divesting him of his duties. SC orders CVC to give CBI Director Alok Verma its report in a sealed cover and asks Verma to respond by Monday.
  • November 16: The Supreme Court calls the CVC report on the CBI issue “exhaustive” and says a decision would be taken on it on November 19.
  • November 19: CBI Director Alok Kumar Verma files in the SC his response on findings of the CVC’s preliminary probe report on corruption charges against him in a sealed cover after the SC asks him to file his response as quickly as possible.
  • November 28: The Delhi High Court allows Alok Verma and Joint Director A K Sharma to inspect in the CVC’s office the case file relating to FIR against the agency’s Special Director Rakesh Asthana. Justice Najmi Waziri asks Verma to go to CVC’s office on Thursday after his counsel says that there are allegations of mala fides against him in Asthana’s petition.
  • November 28: The SC says its order restraining acting CBI director M Nageswara Rao from taking any policy decision does not mean that the agency would stop investigating the cases.
  • November 29: Alok Verma tells the SC that he was appointed for a fixed tenure of two years and cannot even be transferred after the Centre removed him and sent him on leave in October.
  • December 5: Attorney General K K Venugopal tells a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi that the fight between the two officers impacted the image of the CBI. The Centre’s main aim was to see that confidence of the public in this premier institution (CBI) is restored.
  • December 6: Extraordinary situations need extraordinary remedies, the CVC tells the SC during the hearing of CBI Director Alok Verma’s plea against the Centre’s decision to divest him of powers and send him on leave.
  • December 7: The SC reserves the judgement on the petition moved by CBI Director Alok Verma, challenging the Centre’s decision to divest him of all powers and sending him on leave.
  • December 18: A Delhi court grants bail to Manoj Prasad, an alleged middleman arrested in connection with bribery allegations involving the agency’s Special Director Rakesh Asthana.
  • January 4, 2019: Minutes after the transfer of Joint Director V Murugesan is reported, CBI issues a fresh order stating that he would continue to be in-charge of the probe against Special Director Rakesh Asthana. The agency had issued an order transferring Murugesan from the Anti-Corruption wing, which was probing the case against Asthana, to the Economic Offences wing. The agency issues a subsequent order stating that Murugesan will continue to “supervise” the case against Special Director Rakesh Asthana.
  • January 8: SC is scheduled to pronounce on Tuesday, its verdict on CBI Director Alok Kumar Verma’s plea against the Centre’s decision to divest him of powers and sending him on leave.
  • January 8: A three-judge Supreme Court Bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on Tuesday ruled in favour of deposed Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director Alok Verma. The court ordered the government to reinstate him in his position as CBI director. The apex court said, “Statute would have spelt out if interim measures against CBI.