CBI interim director M. Nageswara Rao.
CBI interim director M. Nageswara Rao.

M. Nageswara Rao’s appointment as interim CBI chief challenged in SC

A plea says M. Nageswara Rao was not made CBI interim chief on the basis of recommendation of the high power selection panel

New Delhi: Non-governmental organization (NGO) Common Cause, through Prashant Bhushan, moved the Supreme Court on Monday challenging the appointment of M. Nageswara Rao as interim director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Rao was made to continue as the interim director after former CBI director Alok Verma was removed by the high-power selection panel headed by the Prime Minister, and was assigned the post of director-general of fire services, civil defence and home guards on 10 January. Subsequently, Verma resigned from the Indian Police Service (IPS).

Within hours of resuming control as interim CBI director, Rao reversed all transfer orders issued by Verma on Wednesday and Thursday.

The plea sought the quashing of the order of 10 January and argued that Rao’s appointment as interim director was not made on the basis of recommendations of the high power selection panel, and deemed it to be “illegal, arbitrary, mala fide and in violation of the provisions of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (DSPE Act)".

“Rao’s appointment as interim CBI director was apparently not made on the basis of recommendations of the high power selection committee. It appears that this particular committee has been completely bypassed by the centre, which has arbitrarily and without any jurisdiction appointed Rao."

The high power selection committee comprises the Prime Minister, the leader of opposition and the Chief Justice of India, or a Supreme Court judge nominated by him.

The plea also sought the apex court’s direction to the centre to ensure all records of deliberations and rational criteria related to short-listing and selection of the director of CBI are made available to citizens under the provisions of the Right To Information Act, 2005.

A similar disclosure was sought on the website, mandating minutes of meetings of the screening/search committee for the CBI director’s appointment.

On 8 January, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi had set aside the government’s order of 23 October divesting Verma of his powers and appointing CBI joint director Rao as the interim chief. Verma was reinstated as CBI director, but was barred from taking any fresh policy decisions till the high-power committee reviewed Central Vigilance Commission’s findings against him.

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