Days after Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi recused himself from hearing a plea challenging the appointment of M Nageswara Rao as the interim Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) chief, Justice AK Sikri on Thursday also withdrew from hearing it. A bench headed by Justice Sikri listed the matter for Friday for hearing before a different bench. As soon as the matter came up for hearing, Justice Sikri told senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for petitioner NGO Common Cause, that he would not like to hear the matter and was recusing himself.
“Since I’m rescuing, I can't hear…please understand my position” Justice Sikri told senior advocate Dushyant Dave. Justice Sikri was present in the January 10 meeting of the high-powered committee which removed CBI chief Alok Verma and appointed Nageswar Rao as the interim director.
A high-powered selection committee will meet at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's resident, 7, Lok Kalyan Marg on Thursday evening to select the new CBI chief.
On January 10, the Selection Committee comprising the prime minister, Justice AK Sikri and Congress leader Malikarjun Kharge, decided on Verma’s removal with a 2:1 majority. The Selection Committee generally PM, Chief Justice of India (or his nominee) and the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha (or leader of the single largest party). In this case, Justice Sikri was the nominee of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.
On October 23 last year, Verma and Special Director of the CBI, Rakesh Asthana were divested of all powers by the Centre amid a public feud between the two over alleged corruption. CBI additional director M Nageshwar Rao was made the interim chief. However, on January 8 this year, the Supreme Court had reinstated Verma to the top post of the CBI and removed Rao from the post. However, the Centre brought back Rao as interim chief following the decision was taken by the Selection Panel to remove Verma as CBI chief.