Nariman told the top court that there had been no violation of the Supreme Court’s order. He corroborated The Wire’s claim that its report had Verma’s answers to questions the vigilance commission had asked him.
New Delhi: Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi was enraged at the alleged leak of a confidential CBI report to be submitted with the SC. The Supreme Court on Tuesday adjourned the hearing of the pleas filed by Central Bureau of Investigation Director Alok Verma and non-governmental organisation Common Cause against the government’s decision to send the agency chief on leave, to November 29.
But after saying that “None of you deserve a hearing,” the Supreme Court agreed to hear Verma’s plea on Tuesday challenging the government’s decision to divest him of duties minutes after adjourning the case.
The Central Vigilance Commission had on November 12 submitted a report on Verma to the Supreme Court. On Monday, Verma responded to the Central Vigilance Commission’s report on him in a sealed cover.
However, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi handed over a report published in The Wire to CBI’s chief lawyer Fali Nariman. The media report has some content which is part of Verma’s reply to the Central Vigilance Commission.
Gogoi was reportedly “deeply upset” that the confidential report had been leaked to the media. “I am disturbed,” he said. “Any leak was unauthorised. Free press and responsible press should go hand in hand.”
“It is only for you Mr Nariman and not as a counsel for Alok Verma,” the bench said while handing over the news article to the lawyer, PTI reported. “We have given this to you as you are one of the most respected and senior members of the institution. Please help us.”
Nariman, after going through the report, said it was “totally unauthorised” and that he was very “disturbed and shocked”. “This gives a new twist to the word responsible press and freedom of the press,” he added, demanding that the journalists concerned be summoned to court.
“We are not hearing [the case] today,” Gogoi said. “We don’t think any of you deserve any hearing.”
The chief justice also expressed displeasure over the publication of a petition by CBI officer Manish Kumar Sinha against his transfer by the Centre.
When the hearing resumed, the Chief Justice said, "Yesterday, we refused the mentioning and we expressed that the highest degree of confidentiality will be maintained, but for some strange reason the papers were taken away and given to everyone." The judges added, "The court is not a platform. It is a place for adjudication. We intend to set it right.”
However, in a statement, The Wire said that its report had Verma’s response to questions the Central Vigilance Commission had put forward to him. “These were not in a sealed cover and were not meant for the SC,” the website said. “As for his response to CVC’s final report, handed over to SC in sealed cover, we haven’t seen/reported that.”
Later, Nariman told the top court that there had been no violation of the Supreme Court’s order. He corroborated The Wire’s claim that its report had Verma’s answers to questions the vigilance commission had asked him.
Gogoi condemned a request made by Verma’s lawyer Gopal Sankaranarayanan to give his client more time to file a reply to the vigilance commission’s report. To this, Nariman said he was unaware of the submission and had come to know of it only through the media.
“Nobody had asked him (Shankaranarayanan) to do so. It was totally unauthorised. I was never informed. Nobody asked him to mention the matter. I am very disturbed,” Nariman told the bench, adding that he and his junior had worked late in the night to prepare Verma’s response. “How can this come? It’s a leak. I myself is shattered the way it has been done,” he said in a report by The India Express.
The CJI then adjourned the hearing to November 29 and said the bench does not want to record any reasons for it.
“Verma was accused by his deputy Rakesh Asthana of taking bribes from a Hyderabad-based businessman being investigated by the agency. Verma accused Asthana of the same crime.
As the CBI's top two accused each other of corruption, they were both sent on forced leave and several officers investigating Asthana were transferred on the night of October 23,” a report said.