Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Monday recused himself from hearing a petition challenging the appointment of M Nageswara Rao as the interim director of the Central Bureau of Investigation. The plea was filed by non-governmental organisation Common Cause earlier this month.

Gogoi recused himself as he is a member of the Selection Committee that will identify the next CBI director. The petition will now be heard by another bench on January 24, ANI reported.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, who filed the petition, has sought that Rao’s appointment order be quashed. The plea has also sought a direction to the Centre to appoint a regular CBI director by following the procedure laid down in Section 4A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, as amended by the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013.

“Rao’s appointment as interim CBI director was apparently not made on the basis of recommendations of the high power selection committee,” the petition said. “It appears that this particular committee has been completely bypassed by the Centre, which has arbitrarily and without any jurisdiction appointed Rao.”

Rao took over as the CBI director on January 10, a day after a selection committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi removed Alok Verma as the investigative agency’s chief. After taking over, Rao had promptly reversed all the transfers ordered by Verma.

Bhushan had earlier claimed that the Centre’s move to remove Verma showed Modi’s desperation to stop any inquiry into the Rafale deal.