Supreme Court Judge, Justice A.K. Sikri declined his nomination as a member of the London-headquartered Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal. The decision came amid accusation of the Judge’s vote in the CBI Chief Alok Verma case being rigged
Soon after the news of Supreme Court Justice A.K. Sikri’s nomination as a member of the London-headquartered Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal broke out, it was linked to the judge’s recent vote in the CBI Chief Alok Verma case. After being accused of voting for the removal of Alok Verma as CBI Chief only to bag the post-retirement Commonwealth position, Justice Sikri wrote to the Indian Law Ministry declining the nomination altogether on Sunday.
The selection panel for the CBI Chief case included Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge and SC Judge, Justice A.K. Sikri. The deciding vote came down to the judge when the Prime Minister voted for the removal of CBI Chief Alok Verma, while the Congress leader voted against the removal. The deciding vote was for the removal of the CBI Chief.
Offended by suggestions of the vote being a planned move to attain Commonwealth nomination, Justice Sikri has now refused to assume the position after his retirement in March, 2019. The judge further clarified the timeline for the judgement and his nomination. Referring to the first judgement that sent CBI Chief Alok Verma on leave, Justice Sikri said, “The SC judgment came in January first week and till the pronouncement of judgment, there was no way I would have known that I would one day be nominated by the Chief Justice of India to take part in the selection committee meeting on the desirability of Verma’s continuance as CBI director”.
He further explained, “By no stretch of imagination is the appointment to the Commonwealth Secretariat Tribunal, which was to adjudicate disputes between Commonwealth employees and the secretariat, a plum posting.” The posting would have required Justice Sikri to travel to London for a period of 2-3 days every year. He asserted, “I was not to be paid any remuneration for it, neither was I to be based in London.”
Referring to his withdrawal from the Commonwealth post, the judge said, “It is very painful to find people linking consent given in December with my sitting as the CJI’s nominee in the selection committee. That is why I have withdrawn my consent. I will be much better off doing arbitration in India after retirement than take up this insignificant tribunal post.” He added, “It is not like one is getting appointed to the International Court of Justice to term it as a ‘plum’ post.”
The government has clarified that the position was offered to Justice Sikri because of his untainted career graph and integrity. Officials have further informed that it was Asia’s turn to nominate a member for the London-headquartered Commonwealth Secretariat Arbitral Tribunal.