Justice Sikri recused from hearing the petition. Why?

25-Jan-2019

Justice Sikri recused from hearing the petition. Why?

Justice Sikri today recused from hearing the petition against appointment of Nageshwar Rao as interim CBI Director. "You understand my position. I can't hear this matter," Justice Sikri said.

Supreme Court judge Justice A K Sikri on Thursday recused himself from hearing a plea challenging the Centre's decision to appoint M Nageswara Rao as interim CBI director.

A bench headed by Justice Sikri listed the matter for Friday for hearing before a different bench.

On Monday, CJI Gogoi had recused from hearing the matter, citing that he was a part of the committee which will decided on the next CBI Director on January 24. The matter was therefore assigned to the bench headed by Justice Sikri. It may be noted that Justice Sikri was part of the High Powered Committee which took the decision to remove Alok Verma as CBI Director, two days after he was directed to be reinstated by the SC.

Justice Sikri was part of the high powered panel which had removed CBI Director Alok Verma.

Hours before the Selection Committee is set to decide on a name for the new CBI director, the hearing of a PIL in the Supreme Court on this issue got delayed after Justice AK Sikri withdrew himself from the proceedings.

Justice Sikri recused from hearing the petition by NGO Common Cause, expressing "predicament" and "personal reasons".

Justice Sikri had proved to be the deciding vote since he voted with Prime Minister Narendra Modi against Verma while leader of the single largest party in opposition, Congress's Mallikarjun Kharge, opposed the move.

On Thursday, as soon as senior advocate Dushyant Dave stood up to argue the matter on behalf of the NGO, Justice Sikri said that he cannot hear this case.

Justice Sikri replied that it was a judicial order by the CJI to place this order before him and therefore, registry could not have placed it elsewhere. Subsequently, the bench directed that this matter should be heard by a different bench on Friday, subject to the orders of the CJI.

The matter will be listed tomorrow before another bench. The Committee, also comprising Prime Minister Modi and Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge(dissenting), gave the interim charge to Nageshwar Rao, as per the "earlier arrangement".

Dushyant Dave, senior advocate appearing for the petitioners - NGO Common Cause and RTI Activist Anjali Bhardwaj- expressed despair at the fact that the petition will not get a hearing before the Committee meeting to select new Director, which is scheduled today.

Justice Sikri had got entangled in controversy, after news emerged that he was being nominated by the Centre to the Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitration Tribunal at London, after his retirement in coming March. Since the news broke immediately after the Committee meeting of January 10, it led to a lot of speculations. Following this, Justice Sikri announced revocation of his consent to be nominated to CSAT.

So, the Government order giving him charge of CBI Director is illegal and against appointment procedure under Section 4A of DSPE Act, the petition states. It says : The Government of India has attempted to stifle the independence of the institution of the CBI by appointing the Director of the CBI in an arbitrary and illegal manner. "In an attempt to obfuscate and withhold information about the appointment process, the government responded to each of these RTI applications with the same summary response", the petition says.

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