CBI additional director appointment likely to be challenged in SC

  • Rajesh Ahuja, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Feb 11, 2014 22:12 IST

The appointment of Archana Ramasundaram as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) additional director may be challenged in the Supreme Court through a public interest litigation (PIL).

The PIL could come from Vineet Narain, the petitioner in the Jain Hawala case, even as the government grapples with a political controversy over the manner in which Ramasundaram was appointed last week.

The opposition has attacked the government over its move to appoint the Tamil Nadu cadre IPS officer as CBI additional director without seeking a recommendation for her name from a panel led by Central Vigilance Commissioner Pradeep Kumar.

“I am consulting my lawyers to move the SC,” Narain, a journalist and social activist, told HT on Tuesday.

It was his petition that was the basis of the Supreme Court’s landmark Vineet Narain judgment in 1997, which was first serious attempt to unshackle the CBI from government control.

Narain had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over Ramasundaram’s appointment. He is not satisfied with the response from the Prime Minister’s Office.

According to the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, which governs the working of the CBI, a panel headed by the CVC recommends to the government names of officers for all appointments in the agency above the rank of superintendent of police.

This panel also has two vigilance commissioners, the home secretary and secretary, co-ordination and public grievances, as members.

The panel had unanimously recommended name of West Bengal cadre officer RK Pachnanda, but government sent back his name to the CVC over stiff resistance from the CBI.

Recently retired vigilance commissioner R Sri Kumar, who was part of the panel, said as far his reading of the DSPE Act was concerned, the government could not even send back the name recommended by the CVC-led panel.

Senior SC lawyer KK Venugopal, while participating in a discussion on accountability and autonomy of the investigating agencies, said the government had not been well-advised on the issue.

“The issue can be raised in the SC by way of a PIL,” said Venugopal.

According to CVC sources, whatever may be the reservations of the CBI on Pachnanda, all norms were followed when his name was recommended to the government.

According to sources, the government took legal opinion before clearing Ramasundaram’s name.

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