CBI chief: No shortlist or ‘order of preference’ likely to delay selection again

The Chief Justice of India and the leader of the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha are meeting the Prime Minister at 6 pm on Friday to select a new Director of the CBI

Ashlin Mathew

Even as the high-powered committee to select the new CBI director meets on Friday, there is no certainty the panel will be able to agree on someone.

Amidst speculation that the Government is keen to continue with the interim arrangement in the agency for as long as possible, the committee this time has been provided with ‘all details’ about the eligible IPS officers. Last time when the committee met, both the CJI and Mallikarjun Kharge had complained that no details had been shared with them.

Is the Modi government delaying the selection of the Director of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) yet again? The suspicion has arisen after the office of Mr Kharge confirmed that he had been provided with details of 78 IPS officers but no shortlist indicating the Government’s order of preference and the basis for the shortlist.

It is also not known if the Chief Justice of India and Mr Kharge have been given the same or similar list. In the absence of a shortlist, the exercise may again run into a wall. 

Mallikarjun Kharge has a list of 78 eligible IPS officers from ’82, ’83, ’84 and ’85 batches. However, unlike the last time, the list includes their service details and experience.

“In the list given, there are details including their service records, experience and empanelment. There is no shortlist that I have. I have gone through the list and let us see what transpires in the meeting tomorrow,” said, the leader of the largest party Congress in the Lok Sabha, refusing to discuss the issue.

Before the panel met on January 24, the government had given Kharge a list of at least 90 names with just basic details such as date of appointment, batch, and date of retirement. The new list was given after both Gogoi and Kharge asked for details of these officers.

The shortlist, however, appears to have reached several media houses and the numbers of the shortlisted candidates have ranged from four to 12, going up to 33.

According to an NDTV report, it had accessed a shortlist of 33 names, which included Madhya Pradesh DGP RK Shukla. The others on the list include CRPF DG RR Bhatnagar, CBI Special Director Arvind Kumar, Director General (Bureau of Police Research) AP Maheswari and Javeed Ahmed, former DGP of UP and who has the longest record of service in the CBI among the eligible candidates, 13 years. According to unverified reports, former special director Rakesh Asthana’s name is also on the list.

The office of the CBI had plunged into a crisis after the government had unceremoniously decided to send CBI Director Alok Verma on leave on October 23, 2018, after Verma had initiated actions against CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana. He is believed to be very close to PM Modi and BJP President Amit Shah. The Central Vigilance Commission and the government justified their actions stating that there were allegations of corruption against the CBI director.

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