Nageswara Rao's Re-Appointment as CBI Interim Director Challenged in Supreme Court by Prashant Bhushan
File image of CBI interim director M Nageshwar Rao | (Photo Credit: PTI)

New Delhi, January 14: Three days after IPS officer M Nageswara Rao re-assumed the charge of CBI interim director, senior advocate Prashant Bhushan has moved the Supreme Court challenging his appointment. The NGO Common Cause has moved a petition through Bhushan, seeking the top court's intervention on Rao being re-appointed "without consulting the selection panel".

"Despite SC saying that government can't appoint or remove CBI director without the approval of the High Powered Committee (HPC), the government again appointed Nageswara Rao as interim Director without approval of HPC. Totally illegal. Also no transparency in selection of new CBI chief," Bhushan said in a statement on social media. Justice AK Sikri, Part of 3-Member Panel Which Removed CBI Chief Alok Verma, Turns Down Govt's Post-Retirement Offer.

Rao assumed the charge on Friday, a day after the PM Modi-headed selection panel ordered the transfer of Verma from the CBI to the Fire Services department. The basis of his removal was a Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) report which recommended probe against Verma in the allegations of corruption levelled against him by CBI special director Rakesh Asthana.

Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge, who was the third member of the selection panel, had opposed Verma's removal. He had cited two reasons for his objection: the government had not submitted before him the report prepared by Justice AP Patnaik - who monitored the CVC inquiry against Verma - and the lack of opportunity being provided by the embattled CBI chief to defend himself.

"The CVC report submitted to the Supreme Court doesn't arrive at any conclusive finding with respect to allegations against him," Kharge's note accessed by ANI stated.

Kharge also demanded that Verma be allowed to continue as CBI Director for an additional period of 77 days to make up for the days lost when he was sent on leave.

Despite Kharge's opposition, Verma had to be transferred as the third member of the panel, Justice AK Sikri, joined Prime Minister Narendra Modi in sanctioning the transfer of Verma.