New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear a challenge to the appointment of M. Nageswara Rao as interim director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

A bench headed by chief justice Ranjan Gogoi said that it would be heard next week.

The plea was brought by non-governmental organization (NGO) Common Cause, through Prashant Bhushan.

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 plea said.

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.

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