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Delhi:

Supreme Court’s Justice AK Sikri has recused himself from hearing a petition challenging the appointment of M Nageswara Rao as interim chief of the CBI. As soon as soon as the plea came up in Supreme court today, Justice Sikri said that he would not like to preside over the petition and recused himself.

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In the previous hearing, Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi had withdrawn from the case because he was a member of the PM led high-powered selection committee that would pick a name to head the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The 3 member Committee which includes Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi (or his nominee) and leader of the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge is slated to meet today (January 24, 2019) to finalise their pick for the next CBI chief.

Justice Sikri had attended the last high-powered selection committee as CJI nominee which transferred former CBI chief Alok Verma to fire services. His vote was a crucial decider in the committee with Mallikarjun Kharge dissenting. He had come under a lot of criticism when it was revealed that the government had made a post retirement offer to him before the high powered committee meet. Following the controversy, Sikri said that he wouldn’t have gotten any monetary benefit from the post offered by the government as the post did not entail any remuneration. He also added that he had declined the offer.

The petitioner, Common Cause, an NGO, apart from challenging Nageswara Rao’s interim appointment, have also asked for all records of deliberations and rational criteria related to shortlisting and selection of the CBI director to be made available under the transparency law. They have also asked for the entire process of selection, including composition of the panel, its mandate and minutes of the meeting of the search committee to be made public.Dushyant Dave representing said that Justice Sikri’s withdrawal from the case sent a “wrong signal” that the Court do not want it to be heard. “If Your Lordship felt that you could not hear it, then you should have recused a day before and not when the matter comes up. We get a feeling that Your Lordships do not want it to be heard, “ Dushyant Dave contended at the Supreme Court.

Dushyant Dave also told the court that the meeting (of the Selection Committee for the appointment of the CBI Director) is today and they wanted directions. Dushyant Dave told the court that it had went out of its way to issue directions to convene a meeting to remove (Alok Verma) but remains silent now. This according to him, sends out a very wrong signal.

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