Justice Sikri recuses himself from Nageswara Rao case hearing

New Delhi


Supreme Court judge A.K. Sikri on Thursday recused himself from hearing a plea challenging Nageswara Rao's appointment as interim Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) chief.

Sikri, heading a Supreme Court bench before which the NGO Common Cause's plea was listed for the day, deferred the hearing as he recused himself for having been part of the Selection Committee that gave its nod for Alok Verma's removal as the CBI Director. 

Justice Sikri expressed his inability to hear the matter in an obvious reference to his participation in the January 10 meeting of the Committee that ousted Verma.

"We get a feeling that this court does not want to hear the matter," Dushyant Dave, appearing for Common Cause, told Sikri and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Justice M.R. Shah, the others on the Bench.

"Your participation in the last meeting has nothing to do with it. We have no objection to you hearing the matter," Dave told Justice Sikri. 

"It suits the government," Dave said, pointing at the way the proceedings were progressing. "It is sending wrong signals. It is becoming personal." 

Saying that the matter raises "interesting and important issues", Justice Sikri clarified that since the order sending the matter to the bench headed by him was passed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on the judicial side, he had no option.

He said that had it been on the administrative side, he could have spoken to Chief Justice Gogoi on its listing. 

To which, Dave said that the court could have informed the registry their difficulty. 

As Justice Sikri recused himself and directed the listing of the matter before any other bench not including him, Dave said: "It is virtually frustrating."