In the court of last resort
Mains Paper: 2 | Governance
Prelims level: CBI
Mains level: CBI institutional crisis
The Supreme Court, on Friday, stepped into the
institutional crisis engineered by the “forcible transfer” of the Director
of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) earlier in the week.
The patent illegality of the “forcible leave” of CBI
Director Alok Verma, and the need to maintain the Bureau’s legal independence
guaranteed by law.
The Supreme Court has chosen to attempt to sort out this
- The straightforward thing to do would have been for the Supreme
Court to act according to the black and white law, and reinstate Mr. Verma,
the CBI Director, and leave it there.
- Section 4B of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act doesn’t
allow the government to transfer the CBI Director during the two-year fixed
tenure without the previous consent of the high powered committee consisting
of the Chief Justice of India, the Prime Minister, and the Leader of the
Opposition (or a member of the largest Opposition party in the Lok Sabha).
- This was introduced in 2013 by the Act constituting the Lokpal.
Till then, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) was a part of the
committee mentioned in Section 4B.
- It isn’t any longer, and thus has no role in asking the government
to divest the CBI Director of his powers.
The court’s administration
All about the CVC
Under the circumstances
The Supreme Court has chosen to act according to its
ideas of fairness, or equity, rather than the strict confines of the law.
It has waded into the administrative crises trying to
fashion a solution, but as an interim measure it has indicated that it will have
to consider each decision of the “interim” CBI Director, and thus each decision
of the officer transferred in every investigation.
Justice Patnaik will have to supervise an investigation,
within two weeks, into the vague and secret allegations against Mr. Verma.
Both are woefully under-equipped for a task that requires
fact-finding of such magnitude. However, as an interim measure, it is hard to
think what else would have sufficed.
Q.1) With regard to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), consider the
1. It is a non-statutory body
2. The high courts and supreme courts also have the jurisdiction to order a CBI
3. The Parliament has powers to extend the powers and jurisdiction of CBI
Choose the appropriate code
a) 1 and 2 only
b) 3 only
c) 1 only
d) 1, 2 and 3
Q.1) When the executive and independent institutions act with such brazenness
against the constitutional ethos, can the Supreme Court bear the entire burden
of course correction?