Rajesh Asthana IPS is CBI  ‘acting director’

As the Government on Friday appointed Rakesh Asthana, an IPS officer of the Gujarat cadre as officiating director of the CBI, will we see another collision between executive and judiciary?



Photo by Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
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NH Political Bureau

The Government on Friday appointed Rakesh Asthana, an IPS officer of the Gujarat cadre, as the officiating director of the Central Bureau of Investigation in place of Anil Kumar Sinha, who stepped down today as director.


This is said to be the first time in 10 years that the Government has failed to name a CBI director before the retirement of the incumbent. There has been speculation in the national capital over the past several days that the Government was in no hurry to appoint a successor.


First the Government failed to convene a meeting of the collegium to decide on Sinha’s successor. The collegium that appoints director, CBI consists of the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition or the largest party in the Lok Sabha and, most importantly, the Chief Justice of India. With the Government and the CJI locked in a slugfest over appointment of judges, the Government apparently wanted to keep the CJI out of the process.


Also late on Wednesday this week the Government transferred RK Dutta, the senior most officer after the director, to the Ministry of Home affairs, thus ensuring that the Karnataka cadre IPS serving as a Special Director, CBI does not get to serve the agency even as an ‘Acting Director’. And paving the way for Additional Director and the third in line of seniority Rakesh Asthana to hold the fort.


Dutta was supervising both 2G and Coal allocation scam cases being monitored by the Supreme Court. And according to some sections within the CBI, the apex court had clearly ordered that no investigating officer of these two scams be transferred without its permission.


All eyes, therefore, are on the Supreme Court to see how the CJI reacts to this fait accompli being delivered by the Government. Will this trigger a fresh confrontation between the judiciary and the executive?

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Published: 02 Dec 2016, 4:18 PM