THE Supreme Court has refused to interfere on the plea filed by the NGO, Common Cause India, against the appointment of M Nageswara Rao as the interim Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The plea also sought transparency in the process of short-listing, selection and appointment of the CBI Director.
On February 19, 2019, the Court refused to interfere with the decision of the high-powered committee comprising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Leader of single largest opposition party in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and Justice A K Sikri, to appoint M Nageswara Rao as Interim Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
A two-judge bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and Naveen Sinha said “no interference is called for since regular Director (of CBI) has been appointment”. The Court also refused to pass specific directions with regard to transparency to be followed in the appointment process of CBI director.
Supreme Court also refuses to pass specific directions with regard to transparency to be followed in the appointment process of CBI director.
— The Leaflet (@TheLeaflet_in) February 19, 2019
Background of the case
NGO Common Cause and noted RTI Activist Anjali Bharadwaj approached the Supreme Court of India seeking quashing of the appointment of IPC officer M nageswara Rao as the interim Director of CBI. Rao was given charge of the office of the Director CBI by an order dated January 10, 2019 issued by the Appointment Committee of the Cabinet. The said order came to be issued after transfer of Alok Kumar Verma from the office of the Director by the High Powered Committee (HPC).
The HPC by a vote of 2:1 decided to transfer out Alok Verma. Mallikarjuna Kharge had dissented with the majority decision.
The Petitioners had contended that the order dated January 10, 2019 states that the Appointment Committee of the Cabinet has approved the appointment of M Nageshwar Rao “as per the earlier arrangement”. However, this earlier arrangement i.e. Order dated October 23, 2018 making Nageswara Rao interim CBI Director, had been quashed by the Supreme Court vide order dated January 8, 2019 as it was made in violation of the procedure for appointment of CBI Director as defined in the DSPE Act.
The Petitioners had also sought direction from the Court to ensure transparency in the process of short-listing, selection and appointment of the Director of the CBI. The lack of transparency in the appointment of the Director, CBI, prevented any public scrutiny of the appointment process and allows the government to exercise undue influence in the appointment process especially at the stage of short-listing of candidates, said the petition.