India

CBI chief: Mallikarjun Kharge vs the PMO, who is telling the truth?

It’s for PMO and the MOS in charge of DoPT, Jitendra Singh, to explain why their ‘objective criteria’ overlooked claims of three IPS officers with more experience in relevant field than Rishi Kumar

NH Web Desk

1984 batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Javeed Ahmed was Joint Director (Policy) at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in 2013-14. CBI insiders claim he led the operation that led to the arrest of a nephew of the then Railway Minister in the UPA which was followed by the resignation of the minister and a public scandal that embarrassed the Government.

It was again during his tenure as JD(P) that the CBI sought more independence from the Government and submitted a report to the Supreme Court giving details of what the agency needed for independent functioning. He is also said to have supervised the CBI raid in the offices of the Birla Group in Delhi, during which cash worth Rs 25 Crore were recovered. Company officials claimed that the amount was meant for distributing Diwali gifts. The case was thereafter handed over to the Income Tax Department.

All these cases embarrassed the then UPA Government.

But on Saturday the Modi Government overlooked Ahmed’s 13 years of work experience in the CBI and appointed Rishi Kumar Shukla as the new CBI Director who has no experience of working in CBI.

What’s more, MoS in the PMO looking after the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) to which the CBI reports, accused Mallikarjun Kharge of trying to manipulate the selection and push the candidature of Ahmed.

Indeed, in his note of dissent released to the media late on Saturday evening, the leader of the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha did not mince his words. Ahmed, he wrote, was more “qualified for the post in line with Supreme Court guidelines and provisions of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act.

Photo courtesy: Twitter
Photo courtesy: Twitter
A copy of the note of dissent by Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge
Photo courtesy: Twitter
Photo courtesy: Twitter
A copy of the note of dissent by Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge

The Government put on the table a shortlist of five officers according to ‘objective criteria’ and placed the DG, CRPF R.R. Bhatnagar at the number one slot. Kharge argued in his note of dissent that only three of the five officers met the rquirements. Besides Bhatnagar and Ahmed, the third one to qualify, he maintained, was Sudeep Lakhtakia, DG, NSA in the Home Ministry.

Based on the criteria evolved by the Supreme Court, Kharge’s note pointed out, Ahmed with 303 months of overall experience, half of it in anti-corruption investigation, should have topped the list. Bhatnagar with 177 months and Lakhtakia with 155 months would have followed Ahmed in the panel, he pointed out. Significantly, the Government has chosen to ignore all three.

“Prior experience of having served in the institution should be given primacy after having shortlisted candidates based on their seniority and their ACR,” he added.

MOS Jitendra Singh, however, accused Kharge of manipulating the ‘objective criteria’ and trying to include officers of his preference.

While the dust is yet to settle, and the controversy rages, it is really for the Government to explain why it picked Rishi Kumar Shukla over the others and what it had against the UP cadre officer to ignore him. It also needs to explain its stand on Kharge’s accusation that it diluted and tweaked the criteria to include Shukla in the panel.

The MOS may also like to explain why experience of working in the CBI is not important enough and how normal policing work can be equated with the specialised work done by the CBI.

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