In a series of recusals from hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by NGO Common Cause and RTI activist Anjali Bharadwaj challenging the appointment of M Nageswara Rao as interim director CBI, Justice N V Ramana has become third judge in a row after CJI Ranjan Gogoi and Justice A K Sikri, who recused himself from hearing the said PIL. The PIL was listed before a three-judge bench comprising Justices N V Ramana, Mohan M Shantanagoudar and Indira Banerjee.
Justice A K Sikri, the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court, on Thursday, January 24, 2019, chose to recuse himself from hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the appointment of M Nageswara Rao as interim director CBI. PIL was listed for hearing today, January 24, 2019, before a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Justices A K Sikri, Abdul Nazeer and M R Shah. The matter came up before Justice Sikri after the recusal of the CJI Ranjan Gogoi from the case on January 21, 2019 and the judicial order passed by him listing the case before Court 2, i.e. bench presided over by Justice Sikri.
The Committee for Designation of Senior Advocates of the Supreme Court has been constituted pursuant to the judgement dated October 12, 2017 of the Supreme Court in Indira Jaising v. Secretary General Supreme Court. This judgement introduced the objective system for assessing the Advocates based on 100 Point Index with an emphasis on domain expertise and pro bono work.
The task before the selection committee was to examine the suitability of Alok Verma to continue as the CBI Director. And, one critical ingredient that just had to form part of its decision was the say of the CBI Director himself. It was impermissible in law for the selection committee to dispense with the say of the CBI Director, in the familiar facts of this case.
On January 7, 2018, a Supreme Court bench presided over by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi issued a notice on a plea seeking 30% of VVPAT slips to be cross-verified in each of the constituencies. Advocate Prasanna S appeared for the petitioners - former civil servant, M G Devasahayam, former Secretary Haryana Government, Kalarickal Pranchu Fabian and retired bank officer, Thomas Franco Rajendra Dev.
The Petition — jointly filed by one, M G Devasahayam, former Secretary Haryana Government, two, KP Fabian, former ambassador to Italy and three, Thomas Franco, former General Secretary, All India Bank Officers Confederation, and argued by advocate Prasanna S — contended that such cross-verification and counting of VVPAT slips is essential in the interests of “democracy principles” that elections should adhere to transparency of the process, examinablity, ease of understanding and verifiability.
Doing investigation and registering preliminary enquiry into corruption cases or otherwise is a routine matter for the CBI and for that any other investigating agency. It is neither a fresh initiative, nor a policy decision that may or may not have institutional implications. Further, the policy decision with regard to CBI is taken with the consultation of Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) which is the nodal ministry for the CBI.
It is not only against the DoPT guidelines but also contrary to catena of decision of the Central Information Commission wherein it has ruled that information under the RTI Act, cannot be denied by mere citing exemption clauses of the Act. CPIO and FAA must give justification for the same.
This is a joint statement by Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and Prashant Bhushan in response to the Supreme Court's December 14, 2018 verdict on the Rafale deal. All three were petitioners, along with a few others, in a batch of public interest litigation demanding a probe by a joint parliamentary committee into the Rafale deal, wherein 36 Rafale fighter jets were bought instead of 126 aircrafts as per the earlier deal, a decision taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself, much like his choice of offset partner in Anil Ambani's brand new defence company.
Having noticed this huge lacuna in the general public’s understanding and awareness of the RTI Act, The Leaflet will be running a weekly column on it, in an attempt to make Indian citizens more aware about the myriad uses of the Act, thereby encouraging its wider application in holding various government departments accountable and transparent in their functioning as well as decision-making process.
The Counsels submitted that only the Statutory Committee appointing the CBI Director can tweak the otherwise two-year fixed term of the CBI Director, as per Section 4B(1) of DSPE Act, 1946. The Counsels in the case were Fali Nariman for Alok Verma, Dushyant Dave for NGO Common Cause, Kapil Sibal for Mallikarjun Kharge, Rajeev Dhavan for AK Bassi and Indira Jaising for M K Sinha, while Attorney General KK Venugopal represented DoPT, Government of India.
Advocate Sunil Fernandes, on behalf of Manish Kumar Sinha IPS, DIG (Head of Branch), CBI, Anti-Corruption Branch, Nagpur, Maharashtra approached the Supreme Court pleading that Sinha’s transfer is arbitrary, motivated and mala fide, made solely with the purpose and intent to victimise the officer as the investigation revealed cogent evidence against certain powerful persons. Sinha demanded a Supreme Court `monitored SIT probe in the FIR against CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana, while also adding the the evidence in the FIR against Rakesh Asthana as well as the call records and messages on mobile phones on IO Devender Sharma be preserved, and his transfer be nullified.