After media furore, Justice AK Sikri withdraws consent to Centre's offer for nominating him to CSAT after retirement

Justice AK Sikri of the Supreme Court has withdrawn consent to an offer by the Union government to nominate him to the Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal, sources told PTI. This was shortly after a media report stated that the Centre had last month decided to nominate Justice Sikri, who was recently a member of a high-level committee that decided the fate of former CBI chief Alok Verma, to a vacant post in the tribunal.

A report by The Print had stated that Justice Sikri was slated to join the CSAT after his retirement on 6 March. The report stated that Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had written to Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi last month, informing him about the decision of the Centre and seeking his consent. The decision to nominate Justice Sikri was taken "at the highest levels," the report quotes sources as saying.

File image of Justice AK Sikri. News18

File image of Justice AK Sikri. News18

The Union government was said to have secured the concurrence of both CJI Gogoi and Justice Sikri before filing the nomination.

Sources close to the second senior-most judge after the CJI Ranjan Gogoi said that the consent was withdrawn Sunday evening when the judge wrote to the Law Ministry, seeking withdrawal of his consent.

The insinuation linking the CSAT assignment with Justice Sikri's participation in the committee which decided on the ouster of Alok Verma as CBI director was wrong, they said.

The CSAT is a body which acts as the final arbiter of disputes between 53 countries which are part of the Commonwealth.

Reacting to the developments, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said, "When the scales of justice are tampered with, anarchy reigns. This prime minister will stop at nothing, stoop to anything and destroy everything, to cover up the Rafale scam. He’s driven by fear. It’s this fear that is making him corrupt and destroy key institutions (sic)."

Days earlier, Justice Sikri's vote had proved to be decisive in the verdict of a high-powered committee to remove Alok Verma as CBI director on charges of corruption and dereliction of duty, in an unprecedented action in the central probe agency's 55-year history. The other members of the committee were Prime Minister Narendra Modi and leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge.

The decision at the two-hour meeting of the committee was taken by a 2 to 1 majority with Kharge opposing the move.

The Congress and noted lawyer Prashant Bhushan had reacted strongly to the removal of Verma, saying he was not given a chance to present his case.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Jan 13, 2019 22:47:09 IST

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