Justice A.K. Sikri today i.e., January 24, 2019, recused from hearing a plea challenging the appointment of M. Nageshwar Rao as Interim Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The matter came up for hearing before a Bench comprising of Justices A.K. Sikri, S. Abdul Nazeer and M.R. Shah.
Sikri J. is the second judge after CJIRanjan Gogoi to recuse from the case.
On January 21, 2019, CJI Gogoi had recused himself by pointing out that he will be participating in the meeting of the Selection Committee on January 24, 2019, comprising of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge, and hence, would not like to hear the matter.
The joint petition filed by NGO, Common Cause, and activist Anjali Bhardwaj contended that the appointment of Nageshwar Rao is illegal, arbitrary, mala fide as the government has “completely bypassed” the statutory requirement to consult the high-powered selection committee of the Prime Minister, Opposition Leader and the Chief Justice of India before appointing the CBI Director.
Further, the petition also contended that Mr. Rao’s earlier appointment as interim CBI Director following the ouster of Alok Verma on October 23, 2018, was quashed by the Supreme Court in a judgment on January 8, 2019. Yet on January 10, 2019, the Appointment Committee of the Cabinet approved the appointment of Mr. Rao “as per the earlier arrangement”.
Besides praying for quashing the appointment of Nageshwar Rao as Interim Director, the petitioner has also sought issuance of an appropriate writ for appointment of a CBI Director as per the procedure established by law and that the records of deliberations for selection of the Director be made available to citizens in consonance with the provisions of the Right to Information Act, 2005.
The matter is likely to be listed tomorrow i.e., January 25, 2019.