Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Monday recused himself from hearing a plea challenging M Nageswara Rao's appointment as interim Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), seeking transparency in the process of short-listing, selection and appointment of the CBI Director.
CJI Gogoi, giving clarification over why he has decided to withdraw from hearing the case, said that he is a member of the Selection Committee to pick new CBI Director.
The plea will now be heard on January 24 by another bench.
The Supreme Court was to hear on Monday a plea by NGO Common Cause challenging the appointment of M. Nageswara Rao as the acting Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) after the ouster of Alok Verma.
Common Cause had on January 14 moved the top court opposing Rao's appointment as the interim Director and asked for directions for laying down specific mechanisms to ensure transparency in the appointment process to the investigation agency.
It had also sought quashing a January 10 decision to appoint Rao as acting head contending that it was "illegal, arbitrary, mala fide and in violation of the Delhi Police Special Establishment (DPSE) Act" and the judgement of the apex court in the Alok Verma and Vineet Narain cases.
It contended that the high-powered Selection Committee for appointment of the CBI Director has been completely bypassed by the union government which has arbitrarily, without any jurisdiction, appointed Rao on January 10.
"The appointment of Nageswara 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 Nageswara Rao 'as per the earlier arrangements'," NGO Common Cause has contended.
"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 has said.
The organisations has contended that the government still invoked its earlier order which has been quashed to once again make Rao interim Director of the CBI even though it was not the competent authority and did not have the powers to make the appointment.
The high-level selection Committee, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will meet on January 24 to choose a new CBI Director to replace the ousted Alok Verma.
(With inputs from agencies)