Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has dismissed as "rubbish" the Opposition parties' proclamations on the sensational events that have taken place at the top of the CBI in the last 24 hours. Addressing a briefing hours after the top two officials of India's premier investigative agency -- CBI Director Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana -- were sent on leave and Joint Director M Nageshwar Rao was appointed to take over the CBI's Director's duties in the interim, Jaitley provided the background against which the government had acted, which he said was under the recommendations of the CVC, which is the superintendent authority above the CBI and had received the corruption allegations that Verma and Asthana had made against one another.
Jaitley first took a batch of questions, including on allegations made by the Opposition, and said the following:
CBI is the country's premier investigative agency and that's why for its institutional integrity be maintained is important for any investigation.
It's not only because the investigations in the country be fair -- historically it's been that when there's a serious matter, people ask for CBI as it has an institutional integrity. We also can't afford that outside the country the people against whom allegations are raised be able to raise fingers at our investigative agency. That's why, to maintain CBI's institutional integrity and to take a step to make it is essential.
A peculiar and unfortunate situation has come about, which is that two big officials of the CBI -- the Director and Special Director -- I'm not going into the allegations, have allegations against one another. So there are allegations against both top members of the CBI. Now who will probe this -- the requirements of fairness and fair play have to be there.
This doesn't come under the jurisdiction of the government and neither will the government do it. The CBI act gives the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) the requisite powers. Hence, the CVC has the power of superintendence over the CBI, and this is in relation to those investigations that are related to prevention of corruption act as CVC isn't related to any murder case, it's related to a corruption case. So in relation to corruption cases, superintendence of investigation is with CVC. So now how, when the investigation will be done, who will be made witness, who will chargesheet be filed against -- as per CRPC, it is the right of the investigating agency and officer and not CVC. But during in this superintendence process that the investigation be fair, is a power that the CVC has. Hence, big officials also sent their complaints to CVC. CVC has all the material regarding the allegations. And yesterday, at the CVC meeting, using Section 8 CVC act and Section 4(1) of Delhi Police establishment act, established that on these allegations, neither can the two officials conduct probes, neither can any agency in their supervision. Hence, till there's a probe, to maintain the institutional integrity of the CBI and in the interest of fairness, as an interim measure, they'll sit out by going on leave for a period of time, and an SIT not functioning under either of these two officers will investigate the case. This is in accordance with the highest standards of fairness.
Now those in the opposition who are questioning this recommendation, do they want either of these two officers facing allegations to be the supervisory authority of the investigations which are investigating them? Nothing can be more unfair in the world than an accused or potential accused being in charge of the investigation or being the supervisory head of the agency which is investigating. This is an extraordinary situation and the jurisdiction vested by Parliament in the CVC of superintendence of investigative function is not a power in futility, it's a power to maintain fairness in the investigation process, and therefore, the government in exercise of powers under section 4(2) has passed an order to give effect to the recommendations of the CVC. It is important for every person, including the Opposition, and PIL petitioners and Left-wing wire agencies that fairness of our principal investigative agencies be maintained. I regard charges made by three opposition parties as rubbish. The fact that they're saying that they knew what the agencies were going to do next itself casts serious doubts on the investigation process. I don't believe what they've said is true, then did these opposition parties have access to what's going on in the mind of someone in the CBI? That itself demolishes the integrity of the person they are trying to support.
Jaitley's response to the Opposition and the 'PIL petitioners' is likely to do with the claims of Prashant Bhushan, as well as Rahul Gandhi, regarding a meeting that Bhushan held with CBI Director Alok Verma allegedly over the Rafale deal.