Case BriefsSupreme Court

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]

Hot Off The PressNews

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.

Prashant Bhushan had, on February 1, 2019, had tweeted:

“Today in CBI Dir appt case, the govt made a startling new claim that M Nageswara Rao was selected as the interim director in the HPC meeting on 11th January when they decided to transfer out Alok Verma! This seems to be at variance from LOP Kharge’s version.”

He further claimed that the Govt had misled the Supreme Court by submitting fabricated minutes of High Powered Committee (HPC) meeting saying that HPC approved the appointment Seems govt gave fabricated minutes to court. He said that this was a Contempt of Court. He even claimed that he had personally confirmed this from the Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge that no discussion or decision in HPC meet was taken.

Attorney General, in his petition said that Prashant Bhushan’s tweets scandalise or tend to scandalise and lower or tend to lower the authority of this court. The plea said that the signatures of all the three members of the committee i.e. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Suprme Court judge Justice A K Sikri and Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, were affixed in the decision taken by the panel. It was also mentioned that:

“A mere reading of the said minutes would establish that the high powered committee, at the said meeting, had taken a decision to permit the Central government to post a suitable officer to look after the duties of the Director CBI till the appointment of a new Director.”

The Union of India, in it’s plea, has stated that Prashant Bhushan is:

“deliberately and willfully making false statements of a public platform with regard to a matter which is sub judice.”

The controversy relating to appointment of M Nageswara Rao as the interim CBI Director has become a high profile one as already 3 judges, including the CJI, have recused themselves from hearing the matter.

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: After CJI Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Dr. AK Sikri, Justice NV Ramana becomes the third judge to recuse himself from hearing the plea challenging the appointment of M Nageswara Rao as the interim CBI Director.

According to ANI, Justice Ramana has sought transparency in the process of short-listing, selection and appointment of the CBI director.

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: After CJI Ranjan Gogoi recused himself from hearing a plea challenging the Centre’s decision to appoint M Nageswara Rao as interim CBI director on January 21, now Justice Dr. AK Sikri has recused himself from the matter.

Justice Sikri, who was part of the high powered panel which had removed CBI Director Alok Verma, told  senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for petitioner NGO Common Cause:

“You understand my position. I can’t hear this matter.”

The matter will now be taken up tomorrow i.e. on 25.01.2019 by a new bench.

(With inputs from PTI)