Written byShalini Ojha ·
On Thursday, Supreme Court Justice NV Ramana recused himself from hearing a plea challenging M Nageshwar Rao's appointment as interim CBI Chief.
Explaining why he did so, Justice Ramana said he attended the wedding of Rao's daughter.
In the last six months, Rao has been given the responsibility to head the premier investigative agency twice.
After a midnight surprise order of the Centre divested the then CBI Chief Alok Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana in October 2018, Rao was named interim boss.
He was given the post again after Verma was transferred by a high-powered committee earlier this month.
NGO Common Cause and RTI activist Anjali Bhardwaj challenged Rao's appointment in the Supreme Court. They claimed Centre wanted to stifle CBI.
The petitioners also want the top court to lay down guidelines for appointments to ensure transparency is maintained.
Further, they claimed Rao's appointment violated the Delhi Police Special Establishment (DPSE) Act and urged that the order should be quashed.
On January 21, CJI Gogoi remarked since he is part of a panel which woyld decide the next CBI chief, he can't hear the petition.
The case came up for hearing again on January 24 and this time Justice Sikri recused himself from it.
While he didn't reveal the reason behind his decision, Justice Sikri added the PIL raised important issues.
The inordinate delays in the case miffed the petitioners. Last time, lawyer Dushyant Dave said, "If we had known yesterday itself, we would have asked the CJI to list it today (January 24). It seems you don't want to hear the case."
CBI has been mired in controversies for months now owing to the feud between Asthana and Verma. The top two men of the agency leveled allegations of corruption on one another.
A few weeks ago, the Delhi High Court refused to cancel FIR against Asthana paving path for an investigation.
After being ousted from CBI, Verma was given a less significant post. He was made the Director General of Fire Services, Civil Defense and Home Guards.
Subsequently, he resigned from IPS.
However, recent reports claim his resignation has been rejected as he was asked by the government to join office just for a day.
Notably, Verma was due to retire today (January 31).
The PM Modi led panel that would decide Verma's successor failed to reach a conclusion on January 24. Apart from PM Modi and CJI Gogoi, the committee also includes Mallikarjun Kharge, the leader of the opposition.
The meeting, which lasted for more than an hour, didn't yield any results.
Reportedly, 17 names are in the fray for the top post.
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