CJI recuses from hearing petition challenging interim CBI chief’s appointment

Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi has recused himself from hearing a plea challenging M Nageswara Rao’s appointment as interim director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

He has said that the petition should be heard by a court number 2 presided by justice AK Sikri.

Seeking transparency in the process of short-listing, selection and appointment of the CBI director, the CJI said he would be participating in a meeting of the selection panel to select the agency chief.

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

Earlier, a bench led by CJI had revoked a government order sending then-CBI chief on leave and restored him as the agency boss. It had asked the selection panel headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take a call on the matter.

The CJI who was supposed to be a member of the panel, deputed justice Sikri in his place as he had heard the case against him.

The panel, which also comprises leader of the largest opposition party in Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge of Congress, had however removed Verma as the chief within a few days of the order.

Nageswara Rao, who was appointed as interim chief of the premier investigation agency in October when Verma and his deputy were sent on leave, was re-appointed as the interim chief of the agency.

Verma, the first CBI director to be removed by a PM-led panel, refused to take up his next assignment and resigned from service. He complained that he had not been given an opportunity to present his side and the Central Vigilance Commission.

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