CBI hearing: Justice AK Sikri recuses from case against Nageshwar Rao's appointment as interim chief, says he has 'his own predicaments'

Supreme Court Justice AK Sikri on Thursday recused himself from the hearing in the case challenging M Nageshwar Rao's appointment as the interim director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The bench led by Justice Sikri then listed the matter for hearing on Friday before a different bench.

He announced his decision while hearing NGO Common Cause's petition in the Supreme Court. Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for the petitioner, objected to Sikri recusing himself from the case, saying: "An impression is being created that Supreme Court does not want to hear the matter. Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi also recused. If Your Lordships wants to recuse, it could have been done before the hearing." After Dave insisted that the case be heard on Thursday, as a Selection Committee is likely to announce the next CBI director this evening, Sikri held his ground, saying he had "his own predicaments".

The CJI, on Monday, had recused himself from hearing the matter, saying he was part of the Selection Committee deciding on the next CBI director on Thursday.  The matter was, therefore, assigned to the bench headed by Justice Sikri.

The NGO's petition claims that Rao was not appointed to the CBI top post in accordance with the recommendations of the high-powered Selection Committee, as the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act mandates.

The Supreme court had quashed Rao's appointment as the interim CBI director on 8 January and reinstated Alok Verma to the post, but with riders. However, on 10 January, an order by the Supreme Court stated that the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet had approved Rao's appointment "as per the earlier arrangement".

Justice Sikri said the CJI had passed a judicial order to list the case before him. "Had it been an administrative order, I would have recused myself from the case yesterday (Wednesday), he explained.

Amid the controversies surrounding the top CBI post, the high-powered Selection Committee, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will meet on Thursday evening to discuss the probable candidates for the coveted post and pick a name. Chief Justice of India Rajan Gogoi and Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge are also members of the panel.

Justice Sikri's decision gains significance since his vote had helped remove Verma as the CBI chief. A row had also erupted after media reports linked Verma's removal with the apex court judge receiving a post-retirement offer from the government at the prestigious London-based Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal. Sikri later turned down the plum post-retirement posting.

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Updated Date: Jan 24, 2019 13:38:43 IST

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