Chief Justice of IndiaRanjan Gogoi today i.e., January 21, 2019, recused from hearing a plea challenging the appointment of M. Nageshwar Rao as Interim Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
CJI Gogoi pointed 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 petition that came up for hearing before a Bench of CJI Ranjan Gogoi and JusticeSanjiv Khanna will now be considered by a Bench headed by Justice Sikri on January 23, 2019.
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.