CJI recuses himself from hearing plea challenging Nageswara Rao’s appointment

Justice Ranjan Gogoi

New Delhi, Jan 21: Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Monday recused himself from hearing the petition filed by Common Cause challenging the appointment of M Nageshwara Rao as interim director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The CJI said that he is a member of the Selection Committee to choose a new CBI Director.

The plea will now be heard on January 24 by another bench.

The NGO approached the Apex Court opposing the appointment of Rao on January 14.

In a writ petition, the NGO represented by senior counsel Prashant Bhushan, said that “The appointment of Nageshwara Rao as interim CBI Director was apparently not made on the basis of recommendations of the high powered selection committee. The order dated January 10, 2019 states that the appointment committee of the Cabinet has approved the appointment of Nageshwara Rao ‘as per the earlier arrangements’.

“However, this earlier arrangement i.e. order dated October 23, 2018 making Rao the interim Director, had been quashed by this court vide order dated January 8, 2019 as it was made in violation of the procedure for appointment of CBI Director as defined in the DPSE Act,” it added.

The petition also stated while the high-powered committee was adequately balanced and provisions exist to safeguard the functional autonomy of the CBI Chief, there has been a lack of transparency in the appointment of CBI Director which allows the government to exercise “undue influence” in the appointment process, especially at the stage of shortlisting of candidates.

“The Government of India has attempted to stifle the independence of the institution of the CBI by appointing the Director of the CBI in an arbitant and illegal manner. Further, the lack of transparency in the process of appointment prevents any meaningful public scrutiny and allows the government to exercise undue influence in the process especially at the stage of shortlisting of candidates, thereby undermining the institution of CBI,” it said.

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