CJI holds the key to selection of the next CBI chief

While the Government argues against principle of ‘seniority alone’ in appointment of people at the highest level, it seems to favour seniority and not experience in the selection of Director, CBI



Photo by Arvind Yadav/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Arvind Yadav/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
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Vishwadeepak

It was an hour-and-a-half long meeting on Monday evening to select the Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation. All the three members of the committee, the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India and the leader of the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha were present.


But even as the Government informed the Supreme Court that the selection would be made by January 20 (as opposed to the apex court’s earlier direction that the selection be made by January 16), the note of dissent sent by Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party in the Lok Sabha, has set tongues wagging.


While the Prime Minister, judging by media reports, appeared to favour the senior-most IPS officer, Delhi’s Police Commissioner Alok Kumar Verma, as the next CBI chief, Kharge’s ‘note of dissent’ makes a pointed reference to the requirement that not just seniority but ‘merit, seniority and experience’ be taken into consideration. Officers who have a background of CBI or vigilance should be given preference, he said in the note adding, “The law says that selection must be made according merit, experience and seniority. Our issue is people who have worked for the CBI, vigilance, Lokayukta should be given preference.”


Kharge told National Herald on Wednesday, “My stand is that whoever is selected must fulfill all the requirements.”


Verma, a 1979 batch IPS officer of the AGMUT cadre, has served as an IG in Andaman & Nicobar, DGP in Puducherry and as Special Director (Vigilance) in Delhi Police. But he has no experience of working in the CBI.


Kharge’s note of dissent appears to be referring to the 1981 batch IPS officer Rupak Dutta of the Karnataka cadre, who was serving as Special Director in CBI in November, when he was shifted to the Home Ministry as Special Secretary (Internal Security) barely days before Director, CBI Anil Kumar Sinha was to retire. Dutta had put in 17 years in the CBI itself and was believed to be a natural successor.


The MHA already had a Special Secretary (Internal Security) and for the first time an additional post of Special Secretary was created to accommodate Dutta, who is due to retire in October, 2017, unless he is selected as the CBI chief, which would give him a fixed two-year tenure.


Kharge had earlier written to the Government protesting against the delay in convening the meeting of the committee. He had also expressed his apprehension that the selection process may have been vitiated because of the extraordinary haste with which Dutta was moved out of the CBI.


Former CBI Director RK Raghavan writing in 2015 had also commented, “ Seniority should not be the only criterion as was in the case of Sinha. An officer's professional competence and reputation should play a prominent role…” .


With Kharge clearly opposing the Government’s thinking in the selection, the view of the Chief Justice of India is expected to tilt the scale either way.

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Published: 18 Jan 2017, 4:22 PM