Supreme Court: The bench of Arun Mishra and Vineet Saran, JJ disposed of a plea challenging the appointment of M. Nageshwar Rao as the interim CBI Director and said no further interference is required as the relief has already been granted with the appointment of a full time CBI Director. It said:
“In case the due process has not been followed in the appointment, it is always open to any incumbent, if so advised, to question the appointment in accordance with law but not in the routine manner and undue haste as shown in the petition.”
It was argued by the petitioner that the appointment of M. Nageshwar Rao as interim CBI Director was not made on the recommendations of the High-Powered Selection Committee. The committee was completely bypassed and had no role in the appointment of M. Nageshwar Rao thereby rendering the appointment as illegal as it is in violation of the procedure for appointment of Director, CBI under Section 4A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946.
The Court, however, held that the decision of the committee under Section 4A that the Government was authorised to post a suitable officer as interim Director due to the vacancy caused by shifting of Mr. Alok Verma. Thus, the aforementioned submission was totally misconceived and petitioners have failed to verify the aforesaid facts and the petition has been filed in undue haste without verifying the fact whether the appointment has been authorised by the Committee for appointment of Director constituted under section 4A of the DSPE Act.
After advocate Prashant Bhushan made some comments on Twitter regarding the appointment of former interim chief of CBI M Nageswara Rao, the Attorney General KK Venugopal and consecutively, the Union of India have filed a contempt petition in the Supreme Court. The Bench hence, issued notice to advocate Prashant Bhushan and the said contempt petition will be heard separately.
Three judges of the Court i.e. Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justices A K Sikri and N V Ramana, had recused themselves from hearing the matter.
Background of the matter:
- NGO Common Cause had sought specific mechanisms to ensure transparency in the process of appointing the CBI director. The plea had alleged that the October 23 last year order of the government appointing Rao as interim CBI director was quashed by the top court on January 8 but the Centre “acted in a completely malafide, arbitrary and illegal manner” to appoint him again in “complete contravention” of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act.
- On January 10, Rao, additional director in CBI, was made interim chief till the appointment of a new director, after the removal of Verma.
- On February 4, Rishi Kumar Shukla, a 1983-batch IPS officer, took charge of the probe agency as a full-fledged director.
[Common Cause v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 232, decided on 19.02.2019]