SC: Third judge recuses from hearing plea against Rao

SC: Third judge recuses from hearing plea against Rao

The Supreme Court. File photo

Justice N V Ramana, a judge of the Supreme Court, on Thursday recused from hearing a plea against appointment of M Nageshwara Rao as interim CBI director.

Justice Ramana said he and Rao belonged to state of Andhra Pradesh and he knew him personally and attended marriage of Rao's daughter.

He became the third judge to withdraw himself from hearing the PIL filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan on behalf of NGO 'Common Cause' and RTI activist Anjali Bhardwaj.

Earlier, CJI Ranjan Gogoi recused from hearing the matter, saying he was to participate in a high-powered selection panel to select the new CBI chief.

Thereafter, Justice A K Sikri on January 23 recused when the matter was posted before him. He has participated in the selection panel headed by Prime Minister to remove then CBI director Alok Verma on January 10, which finally resulted in Rao having been given the charge as CBI director as an interim measure.

On Thursday, the matter was posted before a bench of Justices Ramana, Mohan M Shantanagoudar and Indira Banerjee. But Justice Ramana recused, citing the reasons.

The petitioners claimed that the order issued to appoint Rao after then CBI director 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 and appointment of Rao as interim chief made on October 23 was quashed.

The petitioners 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 is made by the panel of Prime Minister, CJI 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.