SC judge, who voted to remove Alok Verma, declines govt offer to...

SC judge, who voted to remove Alok Verma, declines govt offer to join Commonwealth body

SAM Staff,
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Supreme Court judge AK Sikri, whose vote helped decide CBI chief Alok Verma’s removal from the top post, has turned down a post-retirement offer from the government. He has also communicated to the centre that he isn’t interested in any job after he retires on March 6, sources told NDTV.

Justice Sikri was nominated to the post of president/member of the London-based Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal (CSAT), news website The Print reported. The opposition had questioned the centre’s choice.

The CSAT is the final arbiter of disputes among its 53 member-countries of the Commonwealth. The members are appointed on a four-year term which may be renewed only once.

The top court judge, second in seniority after Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, was expected to join the CSAT soon after retirement.

Sources said Justice Sikri wrote to the centre saying he was “pained by the recent developments”, apparently referring to the criticism his vote invited following the ouster of the CBI chief.

“The government had approached him for the assignment last month. He gave his consent. The job required attending two to three hearings in a year and came without any remuneration,” sources close to the judge said.

“I am withdrawing my consent… please do not process,” his letter reportedly said.

Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel had said the government had a “lot of explaining to do” on the nomination of Justice AK Sikri to the vacant post at CSAT.

Congress chief Rahul Gandhi alleged that “fear was driving PM Modi” to take such decisions.

Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had nominated Justice Sikri for the three-member selection panel — which included Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Leader of the opposition Mallikarjun Kharge — tasked by the Supreme Court to take a decision on Alok Verma, who was reinstated as the CBI boss this week.

The panel’s decision was two against one — PM Modi and Justice AK Sikri’s votes went against Mr Verma. Mr Kharge, who had opposed his appointment in 2017, argued that the Central Vigilance Commission’s report lacked “substantial findings” against Mr Verma and suggested his tenure be extended as he lost 77 days after being “illegally transferred”.

Justice Sikri, 65, was sworn in as a Supreme Court judge in 2013. He had earlier served as the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

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