Chief Justice (CJ) of Bombay High Court Dipankar Datta on Thursday recused himself from hearing the plea against the appointment of Subodh Kumar Jaiswal as Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
In the open court, the Chief Justice said that petitioner in the case, Rajendra Kumar V Trivedi, has written a letter to Chief Justice of India (CJI) N.V. Ramana, complaining about Justice Datta.
The CJ said that it was not in good taste, adding that they will not be able to defend themselves. He also showed the letter to Trivedi’s Counsel, Advocate SB Talekar.
However, the Counsel strongly refuted the same, maintaining that his client has not written such a letter and that Trivedi was willing to say the same in an affidavit.
To this, Justice Datta replied that it was easy to tarnish someone’s image and told the Counsel to approach some other bench on the matter.
Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh seconded the CJ and said that it had been frequently noted that when someone did not get relief, they filed such letters. He also expressed concern over the same turning into a trend.
Petitioner Trivedi, a retired Assistant Commissioner of Police in Maharashtra, had challenged the continuation of Jaiswal as CBI chief on the ground that he did not possess experience in investigation of anti-corruption cases and had doubtful credibility.
The petition was filed through law firm Talekar and Associates. It highlighted the provisions of the Central Vigilance Commission Act, which provide for the eligibility criteria and mechanism for the appointment of CBI Director.
As per the CVC Act, the officer, who is to be appointed as Director, has to be the senior-most IPS officer, having experience in investigation of anti-corruption cases with impeccable credibility, noted the petition.
It further said that the appointment of Jaiswal as Director was contrary to the mandate under the CVC Act.
The petition also questioned Jaiswal’s authority on the ground that he had no experience in probing anti-corruption cases.
It was submitted that Jaiswal’s credibility was doubtful for the reason that when Jaiswal was heading a special investigation committee probing fake and counterfeit stamps involving several police officials, including senior IPS officer Param Bir Singh, there were allegations against the committee and the probe was later transferred to CBI.
The Central government had recently filed its counter-affidavit in the matter, defending Jaiswal’s appointment. The Centre said that Jaiswal has handled anti-corruption cases, including economic offences, white collar crimes, corporate crimes and cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA).
Calling the petition challenging the CBI Director’s appointment as being devoid of merits, the Centre said there was no complaints or court cases against Jaiswal.