On Tuesday, the Supreme Court cancelled the Central Vigilance Commission order of divesting Alok Verma as chief of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and instated Verma as CBI director, conditionally.
In mid-October 2018, CBI director Alok Verna and his deputy Rakesh Asthana were involved in a bitter internal feud and were sent on indefinite compulsory leave; and M Nageswara Rao was appointed as an interim CBI chief. Three months since then, the Supreme Court lifted the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) order that had divested Verma of his responsibilities and also quashed the two government orders of reinforcing the CVC order on Verma’s removal, and appointment of Rao as interim director and reinstated Sharma for his responsibilities as the CBI boss, but with conditions.
Hence, Alok Verma will now return to his 10th floor office at the CBI headquarters in Delhi for the first time after the leave and will get back to work. But, the SC has ordered a conditionally restored Verma and he “cannot take any major policy decisions until a high-powered select committee comprising the Prime Minister, the Leader of Opposition and the Chief Justice of India meet and decide on his status”. Although the wings are clipped off, Verma can still file FIRs and sign off on transfers of his subordinates.
For now, the exiled CBI boss has returned to work, but it does serve like a partial relief for Alok Verma, who is scheduled for a term-end on January 31st. While on the other hand, exiled CBI Deputy Director Rakesh Asthana still remains on a forced leave and there are no decisions of his return or transfer – despite the fact that both of the topmost CBI officers were accused of the same crime – taking bribes from a Hyderabad-based businessman. Perhaps, the Supreme Court has faced a situation of treating “extraordinary situations with extraordinary remedies” once again.