It would be unfortunate if the Supreme Court’s judgment is viewed purely from the point of view of partisan politics. The Modi government did not begin the trend of interfering with the CBI’s functioning for partisan ends, nor will it be the last. Drawing over-broad conclusions of what the Supreme Court’s judgment means in the larger political context is also not warranted in this situation. It has not, in any way, stopped the CBI from continuing to be a caged parrot, nor is it a “clean chit” by any means for Alok Kumar Verma.
The Supreme Court’s judgment has been delivered on a very narrow point – an interpretation of the DSPE Act 1946, and the CVC Act, 2003. It has also accomplished only one single thing – a temporary restoration of CBI Director Alok Verma to the post until a proper decision on the allegations is taken by the High Powered Committee. Given that Alok Verma’s tenure will end soon, this may not make too much of a difference to the direction in which the CBI will head in the coming months.
Rather, the judgment is a simple acknowledgement that where the laws state that a thing must be done in a certain way, such a procedure cannot be bypassed or overridden simply because the government finds it expedient to do so. The fact that the court needs to step in to ensure this tells us something about the times we are in.
If courts in India are willing to stand up to governmental pressure to relax their scrutiny in the interests of expediency, constitutional government may yet survive. The right way to appreciate the Supreme Court’s judgment, therefore, is to see it as a small but necessary win for the rule of law in India.
Originally Published – https://theprint.in/talk-point/alok-verma-back-as-cbi-chief-but-powerless-setback-for-modi-govt-or-sc-order-lacks-teeth-2/174643/