SC disposes plea challenging Rao's appointment

SC disposes plea challenging Rao's appointment

The Supreme Court on Tuesday disposed of a plea challenging the appointment of M Nageswara Rao as interim CBI Director.

 The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a plea by NGO 'Common Cause' and RTI activist Anjali Bhardwaj against the appointment of senior IPS officer M Nageshwara Rao as the interim CBI director.

It termed the contention that the appointment was made in an illegal manner without a nod from the high powered selection panel as "misconceived and fallacious".

A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Navin Sinha said no interference was called for in the matter as the main plea for the appointment of a regular CBI director has already been granted. 

Madhya Pradesh cadre IPS officer R K Shukla has been appointed as CBI director.

The court relied upon a resolution passed on January 9-10 by the Prime Minister-headed high powered selection panel, authorising the government to appoint interim CBI director, to trash the plea by the petitioners.

"It (Rao's appointment) cannot be said to be unauthorised and illegal in any manner whatsoever. The submission raised that the selection committee had not authorised the appointment of an interim director is fallacious on the face of the record and is misconceived," the bench said.

The court also did not accede to a plea by advocate Prashant Bhushan for ensuring transparency in the matter of appointment.

"In case the due process has not been followed in the appointment, it is always open to any incumbent, if so advised, to question the appointment in accordance
with the law but not in a routine manner and undue haste as shown in the petition," the bench said in its 13-page judgement.

Rao had twice been given charge of interim CBI chief - first on October 23, 2018, when then-director Alok Verma and special director Rakesh Asthana were divested of their charges due to internal bickering and second when Verma was removed in January, this year.

The petitioners claimed Rao's appointment was “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 case filed by the NGO 'Common Cause' took a turn when advocate Bhushan in tweets, accused the Centre of misleading the court on a resolution by the high powered selection panel, forcing Venugopal and the Union government to file separate contempt petitions against him. The top court had issued contempt notice to Bhushan. It had decided to examine a larger issue if, in a pending matter, a lawyer should make public comments. 

In a separate case, Rao was on February 12 held guilty of contempt of court by the Supreme Court. His apology and plea that he did not commit willful disobedience in transferring an officer supervising Muzaffarpur shelter home case were rejected.

He was sentenced to sit in a corner till rising of the court and was imposed Rs one lakh fine.