Justice AK Sikri on Thursday became the second judge of the Supreme Court to recuse himself from hearing a petition challenging the appointment of M Nageswara Rao as the interim director of the Central Bureau of Investigation, Live Law reported.
The matter came to a bench headed by Sikri after Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi recused himself from hearing the petition on Monday. The plea will now be listed before another bench on Friday. “You understand my position,” the judge told the petitioner Common Cause’s lawyer when the matter came up for hearing. “I can’t hear this matter.”
Sikri was on the selection panel that had removed Alok Verma as the CBI director on January 10. Rao was appointed the interim director by the committee.
Sikri, the second most-senior judge in the top court after the chief justice, was put on the panel after Gogoi withdrew himself since a bench headed by him had earlier ruled on Verma’s reinstatement as the CBI director. Gogoi will now attend the panel’s meeting on Thursday to select Verma’s successor.
Sikri’s vote against Verma on January 10, which aligned with the government’s view, had led to a controversy as media speculation had linked his decision to a top retirement posting that the Centre had offered him. After the controversy, Sikri rejected the offer.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, who filed the petition, has urged the top court to quash Rao’s appointment order. 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.