Retired Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju on Friday said in a social media post that he backed Justice AK Sikri’s stand that Alok Verma should be removed as director of CBI and given another post till an inquiry against him is completed. Sikri was part of the prime ministerled three-member panel which a day earlier had ousted Verma from the post citing charges of corruption against him. Verma was immediately named as director general of fire services and home guards, but the former CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) chief has refused to take up the assignment and put in his papers. Claiming that he was speaking with Justice Sikri’s consent, Katju said Verma has only been shifted out to a new post till an inquiry is completed. He quoted Justice Sikri as saying that Verma had not been suspended or terminated, only transferred to an equivalent post, and that he retains his salaries and perks.
Justice Sikri had said the action was to ensure a fair inquiry into the prima facie findings of the CBI against Verma. Katju quoted Sikri as saying that he had perused the material on which the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) report was based, and was of the opinion that till the matter is investigated and a decision taken, he should be shifted to an equivalent rank elsewhere. “It is well settled that the official need not be personally heard at this stage,” Katju said. Justice Sikri, who retires on March 6 this year, was the Chief Justice of India’s representative on the panel which examined the government’s proposal to send Verma on leave. The panel had taken up the issue after the Supreme Court said it was a procedural lapse and asked it to examine the move in a week’s time.