CBI director selection: Delhi Police chief in fray, Modi-led panel to take call | india-news | Hindustan Times
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CBI director selection: Delhi Police chief in fray, Modi-led panel to take call

A high-powered panel headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to meet on Monday to shortlist police officers for the post of the full-time director of the Central Bureau of Investigation.

india Updated: Jan 16, 2017 16:28 IST
Aloke Tikku
Gujarat-cadre IPS officer Rakesh Asthana is the interim director of the Central Bureau of Investigation.
Gujarat-cadre IPS officer Rakesh Asthana is the interim director of the Central Bureau of Investigation. (Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)

A high-powered panel headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to meet on Monday to shortlist police officers for the post of the full-time director of the Central Bureau of Investigation.

Nearly 49 Indian Police Service officers are in the fray --- including Delhi Police commissioner Alok Kumar Verma, Maharashtra police chief Satish Mathur, Indo-Tibetan Police Force chief Krishna Choudhary and Archana Ramasundaram, the first woman IPS officer to head a border guarding force, the Sashastra Seema Bal.

The Centre had kept the CBI director’s post vacant after Anil Kumar Sinha completed his two-year term on December 2. It appointed a Gujarat-cadre officer, Rakesh Asthana, as the interim director.

Senior IPS officer Rupak Kumar Dutta, who was sent packing from the CBI to the home ministry to a non-existent post to clear the way for Asthana’s temporary elevation, will also be considered for the top post. But he is unlikely to make it.

The three-member panel headed by the PM also features Mallikarjun Kharge, the leader of the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha, and Chief Justice of India JS Khehar as members.

But this ‘selection panel’ does not really have the power to select one officer for the CBI’s top post.

Under the law, this panel has to recommend a shortlist of police officers from which the government will select one name.

In 2014, the panel had cleared the names of National Investigation Agency chief Sharad Kumar and Anil Kumar Sinha. The government had picked Sinha, who demitted office in December.

Asthana, who took over from Sinha, isn’t eligible to be considered for being appointed as a full-time director as the 1984 batch officer was way too junior. The Supreme Court had earlier ruled that IPS officers of the four senior-most batches be considered for the top post.

Asthana, whose controversial appointment had triggered protests from the Congress, does not meet this requirement. The PM-led panel has to select someone from the 1979-1982 batches.

Congress leader Kharge had reacted sharply to Asthana’s appointment, accusing the government of “manipulating” the process of selecting the CBI director by appointing him.

Asthana, who supervised the initial investigation into the Godhra train burning incident when he was inspector general of police, Vadodara range, is said to be close to both PM Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, both from Gujarat.

The Congress leader alleged that the government had “vitiated and manipulated the process to preempt the decision” and the CBI’s credibility demands that “a meritorious and experienced officer of requisite seniority” be appointed as its head.