The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear a petition filed against the appointment of Gujarat-cadre IPS officer Rakesh Asthana as the interim chairman of the Central Bureau of Investigation. A bench comprising Chief Justice TS Thakur and justices DY Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao will hear the plea – filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan’s NGO Common Cause – on December 9.

The petition had accused the Centre of taking “mala fide, arbitrary and illegal” steps to ensure that Asthana was given charge of the CBI. It had further alleged that the government had not convening a meeting of the collegium, which appoints the CBI chief, in “deliberate dereliction, despite knowing that Anil Sinha’s term as the agency’s director ended on December 2”.

This was reportedly the first time in ten years that the government has failed to make a permanent appointment to lead the agency. Asthana is believed to have close ties with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah. He was involved in the investigation of the 2002 Godhra riots.