M. Nageswara Rao, interim CBI chief. (PTI)
M. Nageswara Rao, interim CBI chief. (PTI)

Justice Sikri recuses from hearing challenge to Nageswara Rao's appointment as interim CBI director

  • Justice Sikri was part of the committee that had voted on 11 January for the removal of Alok Verma as director of the CBI
  • The matter will be listed before a new bench on Friday

NEW DELHI : Justice A.K. Sikri of the Supreme Court recused himself on Thursday from hearing a challenge to the appointment of M. Nageswara Rao as interim director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) just after Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had on Monday declined to hear the matter.

The matter will be listed before a new bench next week.Sikri has declined to hear the challenge as he was part of the committee that had voted on 11 January to remove Alok Verma as CBI director.

Gogoi had recused himself from hearing the matter as he would be a member of the panel to select the next director of the premier investigation agency.

The meeting of the selection committee comprising the Prime Minister, the leader of opposition, and the Chief Justice of India, on Thursday to appoint a new CBI director was inconclusive. The panel is to meet again on Friday.

Rao had been made interim director of CBI on 23 October when the clash between Verma and then CBI special director Rakesh Asthana had become public and was at its peak. On 8 January, the Supreme Court conditionally reinstated Verma as CBI chief. However, Rao was again named interim director on 10 January, when the selection panel removed Verma from the post and assigned him the post of director-general of fire services, civil defence and home guards. Subsequently, Verma resigned from the Indian Police Service.

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

The petition sought quashing of the 10 January order, arguing that Rao’s appointment as interim director was not made on the basis of the recommendation 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".

“It appears that this particular committee (the selection committee) has been completely bypassed by the centre, which has arbitrarily and without any jurisdiction appointed Rao," the plea said.

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