Chief Justice Gogoi, however, had heard a petition filed by Mr. Verma against the latter’s ‘overnight’ divestment from office on October 23-24 last year even though the CJI was a member of the high-power committee. Chief Justice Gogoi had authored the judgment for the Bench allowing Mr. Verma to return to office and directed the competent authority to organise a meeting of the committee within a week to decide Mr. Verma’s divestment. It was in this meeting that Justice Sikri had represented Chief Justice Gogoi. The petition against the appointment of Mr. Rao, filed jointly by NGO Common Cause and activist Anjali Bhardwaj, submitted that the government had “completely bypassed” the statutory requirement to consult the high-power selection committee of the Prime Minister, Opposition Leader and the Chief Justice of India before appointing Mr. Rao. It claimed that the January 10 order of the government handing over the charge and work of the CBI Director to Mr. Rao was “illegal”. “The Government of India has attempted to stifle the independence of the institution of the CBI by appointing the Director of the CBI in an arbitrary and illegal manner,” the petition, represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan, contended. Besides, it argued that Mr. Rao’s earlier appointment as interim CBI Director following the ouster of Alok Verma on October 23 was quashed by the Supreme Court in a judgment on January 8. Yet the January 10 order has stated that the Appointment Committee of the Cabinet approved the appointment of Mr. Rao “as per the earlier arrangement”. Lack of transparency in the appointment of the CBI Director allows the government to exercise undue influence in the appointment process especially at the stage of short-listing of candidates, the petition said.