In an unexpected twist, the Supreme Court became witness to a rift within the legal camp of exiled CBI Director Alok Verma and expressed extreme annoyance over leaks of sensitive documents to the media.
In fact, the court was so incensed by the goings-on in the case that it adjourned the hearing to November 29.
“We don’t think any of you deserve a hearing,” Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi told Mr. Verma’s side and lawyers representing NGO Common Cause. The NGO has also challenged Mr. Vermal removal.
The case was scheduled to November 29 since the same combination of judges were only available on that day.
Chief Justice Gogoi came armed to court with the copy of a media report purportedly carrying details of Mr. Verma’s answers to the CVC on allegations raised against him.
The Chief Justice also referred to how advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan appeared in court and orally sought more time to file Mr. Verma’s response.
On November 16, the Supreme Court shared the sealed cover report of the CVC inquiry on Mr. Verma. The court had specifically asked Mr. Verma’s lawyers to keep the report confidential, not to divulge the contents to anyone and file his reponse in a sealed cover on November 19 by 1 p.m.
“We did not give it to you just as a counsel for any party but as the most respected senior member of the Bar,” CJI Gogoi addressed Mr. Nariman about the purported media leak.
However, the earlier hearing was unclear about whether the media report shown in court concerned this sealed cover response of Mr. Verma to the CVC inquiry report or an earlier reply to a CVC questionnaire.
Senior advocate Fali Nariman said the request made Mr. Sankaranarayanan for more time was “totally unauthorised”.
“Nobody even asked him (Sankaranarayanan) to… I was never informed. I only read it in the morning in the papers,” Mr. Nariman said.
On the media leak, Mr. Nariman said “what do you with people snooping around. We did not want it to come into public domain… Your Lordships should call someone who edits them (media outlets)”.
Mr. Nariman said a “free press should also be a responsible press”.
As this story is written, Mr. Nariman has asked the CJI for permission to make a mentioning after the day’s list of cases are over. The CJI has nodded in agreement.