“We expect high a degree of confidentiality”: SC adjourns CBI hearing till Nov 29

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed strong displeasure on the publication of “leaked” reports in the media and said the “highest degree of confidentiality” should have been maintained on the issue of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director Alok Kumar Verma’s case against order to divest his powers.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi took strong exception on how the details of Verma’s reply in a sealed cover on Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) report were published in a section of media.

A visibly unhappy Gogoi also lashed out at how the CBI DIG Manish Kumar Sinha’s application, which was mentioned yesterday before the bench, was carried by the media. Gogoi in a brief order, said “for reasons not to be recorded, we are not inclined to hear the matter today (Tuesday)” after a news portal carried extracts of Verma’s response.

“This court is not a platform for anyone to just come and say anything. It’s a platform for adjudication of rights. We are going to set this right,” CJI Gogoi said.

“We expressed that highest degree of confidentiality should be maintained and this litigant takes the papers and shares it with everyone. Our respect for this institution is not shared by anyone for some strange reason,” the bench said while referring to Verma’s response on CVC report and Sinha’s petition in which he levelled allegations against NSA Ajit Doval and a Union Minister, came in public domain.

At the outset of the hearing, CJI Gogoi handed over an article to senior advocate Fali S. Nariman, counsel of Verma, and asked him to read it as the senior member of the bar and not as Verma’s counsel.

Nariman slammed media for publishing parts of Verma’s response on CVC report and said, “Even I read about it this morning. What are we to do with all the goofing around. There is a difference between free press and responsible press.”

Visibility disturbed with the article that appeared in media, CJI Gogoi said, “We don’t think anyone of you deserves any hearing today.”

“For reasons that are not to be recorded, we are adjourning the case till November 29,” the bench also comprising Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice KM Joseph said.

However, later Nariman along with advocate Gopal Shankar Narayan approached the CJI bench to issue a clarification in the connection.

Nariman then clarified to the bench that the article that was published was Verma’s reply to CVC during the inquiry and not the reply filed in the top court. Nariman further told the court that the article was of November 17 and Verma filed the reply on CVC report in SC on November 19.

CJI Gogoi then handed over another article in a cover as well as a newspaper to Nariman.

In October, CBI had registered an FIR against its Special Director Rakesh Asthana in an alleged bribery case. Thereafter the government sent him and Verma on leave after both traded bribery charges against each other.