Top Two CBI Officers fighting like Kilkenny Cats, Attorney General KK Venugopal to SC
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Top Two CBI Officers fighting like Kilkenny Cats, Attorney General KK Venugopal to SC

Murali Krishnan

The top two officers of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Alok Verma and Rakesh Asthana, were fighting like Kilkenny cats, the Central government told the Supreme Court today.

The submission was made by Attorney General KK Venugopal who is defending the Centre’s action of sending Alok Verma on leave.

Venugopal told the Court that the Central government had decided to send Verma on leave after considering all the material which were made available to it and after it was satisfied that a situation had arisen wherein Centre had to take action to divest Verma of his powers.

AG also told the Court that the Central government was concerned about the public confidence in CBI being eroded because of the infighting among its officers.

“The Central government was very concerned about what was happening in CBI because two top officers were fighting with each other.

They did not keep it under the wraps, instead went public with it. The media, newspapers and TV channels had a field day due to this. Our objective was to ensure that public confidence in the institution is not eroded, so both officers were sent on leave”, the AG said.

The Attorney General also sought to elucidate on the wide scope of the power of superintendence of the Central government over the CBI. Further, he sought to distinguish the decision of the Centre to send Verma on leave from a transfer.

There is no transfer of Verma. The transfer has to be from one place to another. Transfer in relation to service is a change in place of employment. To contend that it is in substance and effect a transfer is wholly unjustified”, said Venugopal.

As a concluding submission, Venugopal said that the two officers who have been sent on leave were fighting like Kilkenny cats which made it absolutely essential for the Central government to intervene.

“The two top officers of CBI were fighting like Kilkenny cats. It was absolutely essential for the Union of India to step in and act and we did so. Nobody can say how it would have ended otherwise”, the AG concluded.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta then started his arguments. He was on his legs when the Bench rose for the day.

The hearing in the matter will continue tomorrow.

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