Justice NV Ramana on Thursday recused himself from hearing a petition challenging the appointment of Nageswara Rao as interim director of the Central Bureau of Investigation, PTI reported. Ramana is the third judge to rescue himself from hearing the petition, which was filed by non-governmental organisation Common Cause.
Ramana said he had attended the wedding of Rao’s daughter.
On January 21, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had recused himself from hearing the same plea as he is a member of the Selection Committee that will identify the next CBI director.
Three days later, the matter came up for hearing before a bench headed by Justice AK Sikri, who also recused himself from the hearing the plea. Sikri was on the selection panel that had removed Alok Verma as the CBI director on January 10. Rao was then appointed the interim director by the government.
The matter will now be sent to another judge, according to News18.
The next meeting of the high-level selection committee to pick the new director for the Central Bureau of Investigation will take place on Friday. The committee, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had met on January 24, but the discussions had remained inconclusive. Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge and Gogoi are members of the committee.
The previous director, Alok Verma, was removed by the committee on January 10, two days after being reinstated by the Supreme Court. Verma was first removed by the government in October amid infighting at the agency and allegations of corruption. He then challenged the government’s move in the top court.
Kharge had opposed Verma’s removal at the January 10 meeting. That panel did not include Gogoi, who had recused himself as he was on the bench that had reinstated the former CBI director. Justice AK Sikri, who is the second most-senior judge in the top court, had taken Gogoi’s place at the meeting.