CJI recuses from hearing plea against Rao's appointment

CJI recuses from hearing plea against Rao's appointment

Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi on Monday recused himself from hearing a plea challenging the appointment of M Nageswara Rao as the interim CBI director. PTI file photo

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Monday recused from hearing a PIL 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.

As soon as the matter came up for hearing, the CJI presiding over a bench comprising Justice Sanjiv Khanna said he is going to participate in a meeting of the high-powered selection panel for selecting the CBI director, scheduled on Thursday, January 24.

The CJI said the PIL would now be heard by court no 2 headed by Justice A K Sikri on Thursday. The NGO was represented by senior advocate Dushyant Dave and advocate Prashant Bhushan.

The petitioners, including RTI activist, Anjali Bharadwaj, 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 selcetion 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.