New Delhi: First, the Chief Justice of India and, now, Justice A K Sikri has recused himself from hearing a petition challenging appointment of M Nageswara Rao as the interim CBI director. In a brief order, the Bench of Justices Sikri, S Abdul Nazeer and M R Shah said: “List the matter next week before a Bench of which one of us is not a member, after obtaining orders from Hon’ble Chief Justice of India.” As soon as the petition of NGO Common Cause came up for hearing, Justice Sikri told its lawyer: “You understand my position. I can’t hear this matter.
Justice Sikri was part of the high-powered 3-member panel headed by the Prime Minister that had last week removed CBI director Alok Verma and the government filled the vacancy so caused by re-appointing Rao as the interim head of the investigating agency. Both senior advocate Dushyant Dave of Common Cause and Attorney General K K Venugopal told the Bench that they have no problem if Justice Sikri continues hearing the case, but the judge declined and recused himself. The judge said he cannot say anything when Dave pointed out:
“It is becoming very frustrating and it is giving an impression that your lordship does not want to hear this matter. Earlier also the CJI had recused when the matter was listed for hearing.” CJI Ranjan Gogoi had recused on the ground that he would be part of the selection committee that was to meet on Thursday to choose the CBI’s new director and as such it would be improper for him to hear the challenge to appointment of an interim officer in his place.