File photo of Ranjan Gogoi
File photo of Ranjan Gogoi

CJI Gogoi recuses from hearing plea against Nageshwar Rao’s appointment

ANI | Updated: Jan 21, 2019 19:27 IST

New Delhi, Jan 21 (ANI) Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on Monday recused himself from hearing a plea challenging M Nageswara Rao's appointment as the interim director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
CJI Gogoi, while recusing himself from hearing the matter, said that he was a member of the Selection Committee, which on January 24, is expected to decide who the new CBI director will be. 
The apex court then posted the matter for hearing on January 24 before court number 2, presided by Justice AK Sikri.
The Selection Committee, comprising of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Leader of the Congress party in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, is scheduled to meet on January 24 to look for the replacement of ousted CBI chief Alok Verma
The petition filed by the NGO, called Common Cause, and social activist Anjali Bhardwaj, to secure "independence and autonomy" of CBI, sought quashing of the order dated January 10 by which the charge and duties of the CBI Director Alok Verma have been handed over to Nageshwar Rao as an interim measure.
The petitioners claim that the lack of transparency in the appointment of the CBI Director allows the government to exercise "undue influence in the appointment process" specially at the stage of short-listing of candidates.
"Lack of transparency prevents any public scrutiny of the appointment process," added the plea.
The plea, filed through advocate Prashant Bhushan, said the order of appointing Rao as the interim chief of the premier investigating agency was "illegal, arbitrary, malafide" and in violation of the provisions of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (DSPE Act) that provides for the constitution of the CBI and lays down the procedure for the appointment of its director.
The DSPE Act as amended by the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 provides for the appointment of the CBI director by a high powered selection committee which does not have a preponderance of the government and its representatives. The committee consists of the Prime Minister, the Leader of Opposition and the Chief Justice of India or any Judge of Supreme Court nominated by him.
"It appears that this particular committee has been completely bypassed by the Union of India which has arbitrarily and without any jurisdiction appointed Nageshwar Rao as interim Director, CBI on January 10. The appointment of Nageshwar Rao as interim CBI Director was apparently not made on the basis of recommendations of the high powered selection committee," the petition added.
It further said the January 10 order states that the Appointment Committee of the Cabinet has approved the appointment of Nageshwar Rao "as per the earlier arrangement".
This earlier arrangement - October 23, 2018 order making Nageshwar Rao interim CBI Director, had been quashed by the Supreme Court by January 8 order as it was made in violation of the procedure for appointment of CBI Director as defined in the DSPE Act, said the petition.
"However, the government still invoked its earlier order which had been quashed, to once again make Nageshwar Rao interim Director of the CBI even though it is not the competent authority and does not have any powers to make the appointment, without following the due process laid down in the DSPE Act i.e. appointment based on recommendations made by the high powered selection committee," added the petition.
Alok Verma has refused to take up the new posting - DG, Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guards. After removal of Verma from CBI Director post, Rao was given charge of interim CBI Director of the central agency. (ANI)