CJI won't hear plea challenging interim CBI chief Rao's appointment
Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, on Monday, recused himself from a plea challenging the appointment of Nageshwar Rao as the interim director of Central Bureau of Investigation. The case will now be taken up by a different bench on January 24. However, CJI said he will be a part of the select panel that will decide the next boss of the federal agency.
Backstory: Nageshwar Rao's appointment irked many
After CBI chief Alok Verma was transferred on January 10 by a high-powered committee led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Rao was given the reins of the agency. NGO Common Cause filed a plea in the apex court, on January 14, demanding the order to be quashed. The body claimed the Centre's decision was illegal and violated the Delhi Police Special Establishment (DPSE) Act.
Centre illegally appointed Rao as CBI Director: NGO Common Cause
Common Cause also wanted the SC to lay down mechanisms to ensure transparency in the appointment process. It claimed the government wanted to stifle the independence of CBI by appointing the director in an 'illegal manner'. It added the lack of transparency allowed the government to 'exercise undue influence' in the selection process. This plea will now be heard in Court number 2.
For months, CBI has been in headlines for wrong reasons
The premier investigative agency has been mired in controversies since last year. Alok Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana, have been at loggerheads, with both leveling corruption charges on one another. As the infighting gained attention, the Centre divested Verma and Asthana of their powers in October 2018. Verma challenged this order in the SC claiming the Centre had no rights to remove him.
Verma was reinstated by SC but transferred by panel
Much to Verma's relief, SC canceled the Centre's decision and reinstated him to the top post. But less than 48 hours after he resumed his duties, Verma was ousted. The panel referred to the recommendations of CVC, which was probing the allegations of corruption against him. Upset with the series of events, Verma resigned from the new post of Director General of Fire Services.
Meanwhile, PM led panel to choose next CBI chief soon
Separately, PM Modi led panel will meet on January 24 to decide the next CBI boss. Apart from CJI Gogoi and PM Modi, the panel will also include the leader of opposition Mallikarjun Kharge. To recall, CJI Gogoi wasn't a part of the committee which decided Verma's fate. He had nominated Justice AK Sikri, whose vote led to Verma's controversial exit.