Appointment of Nageshwar Rao as interim CBI chief challenged in Supreme Court

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A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the appointment of M Nageshwar Rao as interim CBI Director. The petition, filed by NGO Common Cause through senior advocate Prashant Bhushan, has sought the quashing of the January 10 order by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet that allowed Rao to continue as the acting CBI chief.

The PIL has sought a direction to the Centre to appoint a regular CBI director by following the procedure laid down in Section 4A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, as amended by the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013.

Rao was appointed as the interim director for the second time after former CBI chief Alok Verma was removed by a high-powered selection panel led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and was transferred as Director General of Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guards. However, Verma turned down the offer by resigning from the Indian Police Services (IPS).

Within hours of resuming control as interim CBI director, Nageshwar Rao reversed all the transfer orders issued by Verma last week after he was reinstated following a Supreme Court order. Rao also ordered the transfer of four officials at the level of joint director.

Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana were divested of their powers and sent on leave by the government in October for accusing each other of corruption and other irregularities.

Rao grabbed headlines last year after records maintained by the Registrar of Companies (RoC) pointed to a series of financial transactions between his wife and Angela Mercantiles Private Ltd (AMPL), a Kolkata-based trading company, from financial years ending 2011 to 2014.

RoC records show that Rao’s wife, M Sandhya, borrowed Rs 25 lakh from AMPL in the financial year ending March 2011. They show that between financial years ending 2012 and 2014, Sandhya gave loans amounting to Rs 1.14 crore to AMPL in three tranches — Rs 35.56 lakh in FY’12, Rs 38.27 lakh in FY’13 and Rs 40.29 lakh in FY’14.

However, Rao refuted the charges of “unaccounted money” being held by his family and clarified that due intimations had been given to competent authorities regarding the deal.