SC moved seeking quashing of selection panel’s decision to remove Verma as CBI chief

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New Delhi, Jan 23 (IANS) The Supreme Court was moved on Wednesday seeking the quashing of the January 10 decision of the PM-led selection panel removing Alok Verma as the head of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Petitioner advocate Manohar Lal Sharma in his PIL has sought the quashing of the selection panel’s decision to remove Verma contending that it was “illegal, violative of the principle of natural justice and Article 21 of the Constitution.”

Besides seeking the quashing of the selection panel’s decision to remove Verma, the petitioner has sought the quashing of the appointment of Rakesh Asthana as the Director General, Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS).

Prior to his appointment as head of the BCAS, Asthana was Special Director, CBI and had locked horns with his then boss Verma.

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The PIL has contended that the appointment of Asthana as the head of BCAS was contrary to law and the rules governing the Central government employees service.

Sharma has sought the suspension of Asthana till the investigation against him in an alleged corruption case is completed.

The PIL has also sought a direction that a member of the selection panel if placed in a conflict of interest position, must recuse himself from its proceedings, as in the absence of this any decision arrived at would be void.

The PIL says that two of the three members of the selection panel were having a conflict of interest, pointing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Justice A.K. Sikri.

Referring to the government decision to nominate Justice A.K. Sikri to the Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal “snowballing into a major controversy”, Sharma in his PIL said that Justice Sikri has now withdrawn his consent.

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Seeking the quashing of the decision of the selection panel, the PIL says that Justice Sikri was supposed to recuse himself but he did not.

Similarly, the PIL petitioner has alleged that instead of suspending Asthana he was appointed as “BCAS Chief on 18.01.2019 and this is a clear case of personal interest of PM Modi in favour of Asthana and against Verma.”

The PIL petitioner has alleged that an “incorrect” report was submitted before the selection panel that led to the removal of Verma as the head of the investigating agency.

To buttress his point, Sharma has referred to a statement by Justice A.K. Patnaik saying that there was no evidence of corruption against Verma and the decision of the selection panel to remove him was hasty.

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Justice Patnaik was tasked by the Supreme Court to supervise a CVC inquiry against Verma.

The PIL petitioner has sought an inquiry and the fixing of responsibility.

–IANS

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