A huge controversy erupted after a high powered committee decided too transfer CBI Director Alok Verma to fire services, a day to after Supreme Court terminated the forced leave that was imposed on him by the Government. The high powered committee consisted of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, opposition leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Justice AK Sikri, who was representing the Chief Justice.
Ever since Verma’s transfer, various kind of reports and editorials speculating the very intentions of the committee surfaced on print and digital media platforms. However, putting rest to all the speculations, former SC Judge, Markandey Katju through a series of posts on Facebook not only explained the entire process of Alok Verma’s transfer, but also revealed what made Justice AK Sikri, the third person on the panel, vote against the former CBI Director.
Explaining the entire matter from a legal perspective and the decision of Justice AK Sikri, Justice Markandey Katju wrote on Facebook:
Once again about Justice A.K.Sikri
Yesterday I had put up a fb post about Justice A.K.Sikri, Judge, Supreme Court, who was on the 3 member committee which resolved ( by a 2-1 majority ) to remove Alok Verma from the post of Director, CBI.
Many people commented on the post asking why Alok Verma was not given a hearing by the committee before taking its decision , so I telephoned Justice Sikri this morning and asked him what he has to say about this. I also took his permission to put up this post on fb.
Justice Sikri said the following :
1. The CVC had recorded prima facie findings of guilt on some serious charges against Verma on the material before it.
2. The CVC had given a hearing to Verma before recording its prima facie findings
3. In view of these serious prima facie findings of guilt, and after perusing the material on which they were based, Justice Sikri was of the opinion that until the matter was fully investigated and a final decision given about the guilt or innocence of Verma he should not remain on the post of Director, CBI but should be shifted to another post equivalent in rank
4. Verma’s service has not been terminated, as some people believe. He has not even been suspended, but only transferred retaining his salary and perks.
5. As regards the question of not giving a hearing to Verma, it is a settled principle that even suspension can be done without giving the accused a hearing, and suspensions pending enquiry are very common. It is only dismissal which cannot be done without a hearing.
6. Verma has not even been suspended, far less dismissed. He has only been transferred to an equivalent post
In a later post, hitting out at the media coverage of the entire issue, Justice Katju said, ” A large number of mediapersons, including some very prominent ones, uttered all kind of nonsense on twitter on Alok Verma’s removal from the post of Director CBI without even trying to contact Justice Sikri and seeking his version. Since the meeting of the 3 member committee was not a judicial proceeding, and since he was being attacked as being a puppet of Modi, I see no reason why Justice Sikri would not have given his version about the reasons for his decision to the media had he been approached.”