The crucial hearing in the CBI case had a light moment today when the Central Vigilance Commission's (CVC) advocate requested the Supreme Court to allow him "access" to CVC's confidential preliminary inquiry report against CBI Director Alok Kumar Verma.
"You (CVC) have not got it (report)? You are the author of the report and you have not seen it?," Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for CVC.
Mr Mehta told the bench that though he was representing CVC in the matter, he has not seen the report as a lawyer.
Referring to the top court's earlier direction that the inquiry report be placed before it in a sealed cover, Mr Mehta said: "I have said that since the court had asked me to file it (report) in sealed cover, I will place it before the court only."
"Please allow me access to this report," he told the bench, which also comprised justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph.
Attorney General K K Venugopal, who was appearing for the Centre, also said that he had asked Mehta about the report and the solicitor general had told him that even he has not seen it.
The bench then ordered that the CVC's report be provided to the offices of Mr Venugopal and Mr Mehta in sealed cover.
It also said that copy of the report along with annexure be also given to Mr Verma in a sealed cover and it "will be open for" him to file his response to it "again in sealed cover" by 1 PM on November 19.
The bench made it clear that confidentiality of CVC's report was necessary "keeping in mind the need to preserve and maintain the sanctity of the institution of the CBI and public confidence in the said institution".
It also said that only Mr Verma would file his response to the CVC report.
Mr Verma has approached the top court challenging the Centre's decision to divest him of his duties and sending him on leave following his feud with CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana, who has levelled corruption allegations against him.
During the hearing, senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, appearing for veteran Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, told the bench that it should also hear him.
"Who are you?," the bench asked Mr Sibal who responded, "Mr Kharge".
On November 4, Kharge had moved the top court contending that divesting Verma of his statutory powers and functions is "completely illegal and arbitrary".