New Delhi: Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on Monday recused himself from hearing a challenge to the appointment of M. Nageswara Rao as interim director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Gogoi declined to hear the matter since he will be a member of the selection panel that meets on 24 January to appoint a new CBI director.

Accordingly, the case will be listed before a new bench on Thursday.

Rao was made to continue as 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 petition sought quashing of the 10 January order, 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 (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 petition said.

The 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.

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