Alok Kumar Verma v. Union of India - Important Supreme Court Judgment 2019

Alok Kumar Verma v. Union of India - Important Supreme Court Judgment 2019

In the case of Alok Kumar Verma v. Union of India & Anr. [Writ Petition (Civil) No. 1309 of 2018], the primary issue for consideration before a three Judge Bench was whether the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and the Government of India were competent to divest the Director, CBI of all his powers, functions, duties, supervisory role, etc. without obtaining the prior consent of the Committee constituted under Section 4A(1) of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 (DSPE Act) to make recommendations for appointment of the Director, CBI.

The Bench observed that “the institution of the CBI has been perceived to be necessarily kept away from all kinds of extraneous influences so that it can perform its role as the premier investigating and prosecuting agency without any fear and favour and in the best public interest. The head of the institution, namely, the Director, naturally, therefore, has to be the role model of independence and integrity which can only be ensured by freedom from all kinds of control and interference except to the extent that Parliament may have intended.” Such intendment, in the considered view of the Bench “would require all Authorities to keep away from intermingling or interfering in the functioning of the Director.”

The Bench held that “in a situation where such interference may at all be called for, public interest must be writ large against the backdrop of the necessity.” It was held that “the relevance and adequacy of the reasons giving rise to such a compelling necessity can only be tested by the opinion of the Committee constituted under Section 4A(1) of the DSPE Act in whom the power to make recommendations for appointment of the Director has been vested by Parliament. This alone can provide an adequate safeguard to ensure the independence of the office keeping in view the legislative intent.”

Consequently, the Bench set aside the orders of the CVC and the Central Government divesting the powers, functions, duties, supervisory role, etc. of Shri Alok Kumar Verma as Director, CBI. The issue of divestment of power and authority of the Director, CBI was left “open for consideration by the Committee under Section 4A(1) of the DSPE Act, 1946”, and, it was directed that “the petitioner Shri Alok Kumar Verma, Director, CBI, upon reinstatement, will cease and desist from taking any major policy decisions till the decision of the Committee permitting such actions and decisions becomes available”. It was also made explicit “that the role of the Petitioner Shri Alok Kumar Verma as the Director, CBI during the interregnum” “will be confined only to the exercise of the ongoing routine functions without any fresh initiative, having no major policy or institutional implications.”

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