CBI fiasco: SC to consider plea against Rao next week

The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to consider next week a plea by NGO 'Common Cause' for quashing of the Union government's order of January 10 giving charge of the CBI director to IPS officer M Nageshwara Rao as an interim measure. File photo

The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to consider next week a plea by NGO 'Common Cause' for quashing of the Union government's order of January 10 giving charge of the CBI director to IPS officer M Nageshwara Rao as an interim measure.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices L Nageswara Rao and Sanjay Kishan Kaul said the matter may come for consideration sometime next week.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioners, NGO as well as RTI activist, Anjali Bharadwaj, mentioned the petition seeking an urgent hearing on Friday. He said there was an urgency as new CBI director has to be appointed by January 31.

The court said if the defects in the petition were cured, it may come up for a hearing next week.

The petitioners claimed that the order issued after then CBI director Alok Verma decided to superannuate was as “illegal, arbitrary, mala fide” and in violation of the provisions of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act and the apex court's judgment of January 8 wherein Verma was directed to be reinstated.

The petition, filed by Bhushan, also sought the issuance of directions for appointment of a director, CBI as per the procedure established by law and for ensuring transparency in the process of short-listing, selection and appointment of the head of the investigating agency.

The appointment of the CBI director has to be made by a high-powered selection panel of Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India and Leader of Opposition.

“It appears that this particular committee has been completely bypassed by the Union government which has arbitrarily and without any jurisdiction appointed Rao as interim director, CBI on January 10. The appointment of Rao as interim CBI director was apparently not made on the basis of recommendations of the high powered selection committee,” it said.

The order was also in violation of the apex court's January 8 judgement which reinstated Verma and quashed the appointment of Rao as interim director, it added.

“The government of India has attempted to stifle the independence of the institution of the CBI by appointing the director of the CBI in an arbitrary and illegal manner. Further, the lack of transparency in the process of appointment prevents any meaningful public scrutiny and allows the government to exercise undue influence in the process especially at the stage of short-listing of candidates, thereby undermining the institution of the CBI,” it said.

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CBI fiasco: SC to consider plea against Rao next week

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