Justice A K Sikri recuses himself from Rao’s case

New Delhi: Justice A K Sikri recused himself from hearing the petition challenging the appointment of M Nageswara Rao as CBI interim director today. The top court bench led by Justice Sikri listed the matter for hearing on Friday before a different bench. As soon as the matter came up for hearing, Justice Sikri told senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for petitioner NGO Common Cause, that he would not like to hear the matter and was recusing himself.

‘You understand my position. I can’t hear this matter,’ said Justice Sikri, who was a part of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led high powered panel which had removed CBI Director Alok Verma. Rao was first appointed as the interim CBI Director director in October 2018. Last month, he was promoted to the rank of an additional director by the government.

A 1986-batch IPS officer from the Odisha cadre, Rao’s name has been cleared by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet. The promotion of Rao, who took over as interim CBI Director amid a midnight drama on 24 October, came after the government stepped in between Director CBI Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana fight, which reached court. Immediately after his appointment, Rao transferred several top officers. On 11 January, Verma was sacked after a two-hour-long meeting of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Selection Committee in New Delhi. Rao was then reinstated as the interim CBI chief. Rao transferred another 20 officers on Monday in a major reshuffle. CBI sources later said that the extensive transfer and posting of officials by Rao is aimed to ‘cleanse’ the system, ‘restore checks and balances’ in the agency and boost manpower in units investigating crucial cases.