The Hindustan Times – In plea before SC, Alok Verma claims government interference in sensitive cases

CBI director Alok Verma has moved the top court under Article 32 of the Constitution and said the DoPT order violated statutory provisions under which CBI is expected to function independently.

Bhadra Sinha

New Delhi – India, 24 October 2018. Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director Alok Kumar Verma has accused the government of interfering with the independence and autonomy of the premier institution, told the Supreme Court that divesting him of his powers “overnight” by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) and the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) was “patently illegal”, and also hinted that he was removed for investigating cases inconvenient to the government.

He also hit out at the agency’s special director Rakesh Asthana (whom he didn’t name), who too was sent on leave along with the director, for posing hurdles in investigating cases.

Verma’s petition was mentioned by advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan before a bench led by chief justice Ranjan Gogoi on Wednesday morning.

Investigating officers of sensitive cases are being changed, which may jeopardize a probe into many sensitive cases, he said. The court agreed with his request for an early hearing and listed the matter for Friday.

Verma sought the quashing of the “rapid fire” decisions of October 23 by the CVC and the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), as being without jurisdiction and in violation of Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution. They were arbitrary and issued without following the due process of law, he claimed.

Verma has moved the top court under Article 32 of the Constitution.

As CBI is expected to function independently and autonomously, there are bound to be occasions when certain investigations of high functionaries do not take the direction that may be desirable to the government, Verma mentioned in his petition.

He offered to share details of “many cases” which have led to the “present circumstances.” Verma did not divulge the same in his petition as they “are extremely sensitive” in nature.

Verma’s petition has asked to court to “give independence to CBI from the DoPT” as its latest move “seriously hinders the CBI’s independent functioning.”

Not all influence exerted by a political government would be found “explicit or in writing.” “More often than not, it is tacit and requires considerable courage to withstand,” Verma claimed.

The director has also challenged the decision of the government by which joint director M Nageswara Rao, a 1986-batch Odisha cadre Indian Police Service officer, has been given charge as head of the probe agency.

According to him the DoPT could not have divested him of the powers without the mandate of the high-powered committee led by the Prime Minister and comprising the leader of the Opposition and chief justice of India.

Under the law it is this committee that appoints and approves the transfer of a CBI director.

“Over the recent past, although all functionaries within CBI from the investigating officer and the superintending officers up to the Joint Director and the Director have agreed on a certain course of action, the Special Director has been of a different view,” he said, referring to Asthana.

Hurdles posed by Asthana, Verma said, have now been compounded by his complicity in “concocting evidence” to impugn the director’s reputation. This had led to registration of a separate FIR, which Asthana has challenged in the Delhi high court.

“As matters stood thus, CVC (Central Vigilance Commission) and the Central Government have overnight taken the impugned decisions to divest the petitioner of his complete role as Director CBI and to appoint another individual in his stead. These actions are patently illegal for the reasons,” the petition stated.

Recalling various SC judgements, Verma said the present actions give serious credence to the requirement that the agency be given independence from the DoPT. Any illegal interference of the present nature not only erodes the independence of the institution but also the morale of its officers, he added.

The Tribune – Swaraj steps in, AAP duo can visit Canada

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 23 October 2018. Aam Aadmi Party MLAs Kultar Singh Sandhwan and Amarjit Singh Sandoa, who were denied entry to Canada at Ottawa Airport on 21 July, are now eligible to enter Canada anytime.

The development has come to light with the second letter of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to Vidhan Sabha Speaker Rana K P Singh.

Expressing serious concern over the discourteous treatment to the AAP MLAs at the Canadian airport, Speaker Rana KP Singh had written to the External Affairs Minister for an action in the matter on July 25.

In the letter to the Speaker, the Union minister said the Indian High Commission in Ottawa had strongly raised the matter with the Canadian Government, seeking the circumstances and reasons for this deplorable action by the Canadian immigration authorities.

She wrote, “I have been informed that the Canadian Border Services Agency has conveyed to our Mission in Ottawa that due to privacy legislation they are unable to provide further details in the matter.

However, they have also conveyed that Kultar Singh and Amarjit Singh are eligible to visit Canada, if they choose to do so, at any future time.”

Gent – Gentbrugge

Achilles Heyndrickxlaan
16 September 2018

The friendly face of a Citroën Deux Chevaux camionette

19 September 2018

Not going to Brugge, just waiting for a Leuven train

Gentbrugge Braemstraat
23 September 2018

Peace be upon us all !

Evi adjusting her hair

Did I move or did she move ?

The full Evi

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Sikh Federation UK – British Deputy High Commissioner exposed for telling half-truths, breaching confidence and showing limited understanding of legal basis to independent Sikh State

London – UK, 23 October 2018. The British Deputy High Commissioner in Chandigarh, Andrew Ayre is under severe pressure following a controversial and offensive interview full of half-truths in The Times of India titled: ‘There’s no legal base for a separate state’ Andrew Ayre.

He also stands accused of becoming a mouth-piece for the Indian state by trying to compromise Sikh organisations by telling untruths and lacking respect for confidentiality when meeting Sikh representatives.

An even more serious charge is he discussed without permission the case of Jagtar Singh Johal, the 31-year-old Scot from Dumbarton who has been tortured by police in an Indian jail and has been held without a proper trial for almost a year.

The competence of this junior diplomat and if he can be trusted has been called into question with this interview. His unprofessionalism, abandonment of diplomatic protocol and limited understanding of the historic, moral and legal basis for an independent Sikh State suggests he is not suitable to represent Britain in the Sikh homeland, Punjab.

Andrew Ayre met with Sikh representatives from the Sikh Federation (UK), Sikh Network, Sikh Council UK, Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, British Sikh Consultative Forum and City Sikhs at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London on 25 September during his trip to the UK.

As all those who attended the London meeting have and can confirm there was no discussion whatsoever about a separate Sikh State, Referendum 2020 or the police raids on the homes of five Sikh activists as these issues were not on the agenda given the range of Sikh organisations invited.

Instead there was a lengthy discussion on the human rights situation in Punjab and across India. Andrew Ayre when pushed admitted in the meeting that the human rights situation was dire and not improving for women and minorities with the blame firmly and squarely at the feet of the right-wing BJP government.

He should have shown courage and gone public with such criticisms of the Indian authorities in his interview with the Times of India.

The Sikh Federation (UK) in the meeting also exposed the total and consistent failure of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to officially acknowledge the poor human rights situation in India in its annual human rights report.

Before Andrew Ayre came to London he also went to meet Jagtar Singh Johal in prison. Andrew Ayre stated in the London meeting with Sikh representatives he had obtained the permission of Jagtar Singh Johal to talk to those gathered about his case.

However, when Andrew Ayre met Jagtar Singh Johal’s family and his MP Martin Docherty-Hughes three days later on 28 September Andrew Ayre was rebuked by his family for breaching his confidence.

Jagtar Singh Johal is on record as stating he only authorised the Deputy High Commissioner to discuss his case with his family, his MP and the Sikh Federation (UK) so he is bang out of order.

When Andrew Ayre met Jagtar Singh Johal’s family he was told he was living in an ivory tower in Chandigarh and was ignorant to the long-term suffering and experiences of ordinary Sikhs in Punjab and elsewhere.

The protest in Bargarhi, the associated targeted killing of innocent Sikhs and desecrations were highlighted to show significant problems remain.

Andrew Ayre also showed his naivety and bias in the meeting with Sikh representatives when without prompting he openly criticised the previous Punjab government led by the Shiromani Akali Dal/BJP alliance compared to the current Congress incumbents.

Although Referendum 2020 was not discussed had Andrew Ayre raised this we would have reminded him that what is planned is a non-binding referendum that does not require the authority of the Indian state. For him to say in his interview there is no legal basis for Khalistan demonstrates his total lack of knowledge of history and international law.

The Sikhs’ right to self-determination and claim to re-establish a sovereign Sikh State is based on the fact Sikhs first secured political power in the form of an independent state in 1710 CE.

The larger sovereign Sikh state established in 1799 CE was recognised by all the world powers as a subject of international law and was party to several treaties with the British.

We would also have pointed out the ‘territorial integrity’ limitation does not apply to India when it comes to Sikhs securing independence by means of secession as India has systematically oppressed Sikhs who have not had their political and human rights respected since 1947.

The level of oppression of the Sikhs in Punjab and elsewhere in India, especially during the period 1978 to 1995 was severe.

The violation of “individual” human rights such as genocide and other crimes against humanity, such as extra-judicial killings, disappearances, torture, rape and illegal detention have left the Sikh people traumatised.

Independent human rights observers at the United Nations familiar with the Sikh situation accept that the ‘territorial integrity’ limitation cannot be afforded to India.

Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:

“The interview by Andrew Ayre in The Times of India is an absolute disgrace. He has become a mouthpiece for the Indian state and as far as British Sikhs are concerned he cannot be trusted to represent our interests.”

“He has not had the decency to apologise to the family of Jagtar Singh Johal for a serious breach of confidentiality and shown with his latest outburst he has no sense of compassion or understanding for the plight of Sikhs in Punjab.”

“Foreign Office Ministers have emphasised the need to avoid ‘megaphone diplomacy’ when it comes to India. However, this interview shows it remains a priority for British diplomats that have double standards to keep India happy at the expense of the Sikh minority in the UK and Punjab.”

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)

The Hindu – CBI Director removal: Committee’s approval a must, say legal experts

As per Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, CVC cannot curtail CBI chief’s tenure.

Krishnadas Rajagopal

New Delhi – India, 24 October 2018. The Supreme Court has to examine whether the government and the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) can unilaterally remove the CBI Director on the assumption that the move will restore public faith in the country’s premier investigative agency.

The CVC and the government both agree they have the power to divest Mr Verma of his office to save the credibility of the institution. They quote from the Central Vigilance Commission Act and the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act to show they can exercise “superintendence and control” over the agency.

They say their decision was taken in an “extraordinary and unprecedented” situation.

When CVC has the say

For this, the government and the CVC bank on Section 4(1) of the DSPE Act, which allows the commission to supervise investigation of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The DSPE Act gives the Centre the power of superintendence over the CBI “in all other matters.”

Section 4(1) is again echoed in Section 8 of the Central Vigilance Commission Act. These provisions allow the commission to exercise superintendence over the CBI and give directions in relation to the investigation of corruption cases.

But the moot point is whether these provisions allow the government and the commission to strip the CBI Director of his job.

In this regard, legal experts refer to Section 4B(2) of the DSPE Act, which mandates that the CBI Director cannot be “transferred” without the previous consent of a high-power committee chaired by the Prime Minister.

Firstly, they argue, the CBI Director is appointed on the recommendation of this committee which has the Leader of the Opposition and the Chief Justice of India as members.

Relieving the CBI chief of his post would, as a natural corollary, require taking the consent of this committee.

Experts further point to Section 4C of the DSPE Act. This provision clearly says that the CVC has no role, whatsoever, in curtailing or extending the tenure of the CBI Director.

They argue that a committee led by the Central Vigilance Commissioner may have authority over the tenure of the Special CBI Director, but not the CBI Director.