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Tuesday, Aug 20, 2019

No decision on new CBI chief, PM-led panel likely to meet again next week

The CBI has been working under interim director M Nageswara Rao after Alok Verma was removed on charges of corruption and dereliction of duty by the high-powered selection committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

india Updated: Jan 24, 2019 22:17 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
The selection committee will meet again any time next week to finalise the name of the CBI director.
The selection committee will meet again any time next week to finalise the name of the CBI director.(PTI)
         

The meeting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led selection committee to decide on the next CBI chief remained inconclusive, officials said Thursday.

“A list of eligible officers along with their dossiers was shared with the panel members. But no decision has been taken so far,” an official said requesting anonymity. The selection committee will meet again any time next week to finalise the name of the CBI director.

The selection committee led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and members Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and leader of the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge met late in the evening to finalise the name of the next CBI chief.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, Kharge said names of officers were shared.

“The government presented names of 70-80 officers. There was no mention of their career details including relevant experience. We (referring to CJI Gogoi) have asked them to provide all the necessary details. The next meeting will be convened may be by next week,” he said.

The Central Bureau of Investigation has been working under interim director M Nageswara Rao after Alok Verma was removed as its chief on charges of corruption and dereliction of duty by the high-powered committee headed by Prime Minister Modi. Rao’s appointment has also been challenged in the top court.

The meeting of the PM-led panel comes after CJI Gogoi and top court’s number 2 Justice AK Sikri recused themselves from hearing the petition challenging Rao’s appointment as the CBI interim director. Justice Sikri was nominated by the CJI for the plea hearing.

CJI Gogoi had cited the meeting of the CBI selection panel as the reason for recusing himself from hearing the petition.

Also read: ‘Will ensure no officer with BJP link makes the cut’: Congress on CBI chief’s selection

The petitioner, NGO Common Cause, claim Rao’s appointment was not based on the recommendation of the selection panel and, thus, in complete contravention of the law. The petitioners have sought appointment of a regular chief of the agency.

The petitioners also want all records of deliberations and rational criteria related to short-listing and selection of the CBI director to be made available under the transparency law.

They have also asked for the entire process of selection, including the composition of the panel, its mandate and minutes of the meeting of the search committee to be made public.

Alok Verma and his deputy, CBI special director Rakesh Asthana, were engaged in a feud that affected the agency’s functioning. Asthana levelled charges of corruption against Verma in a letter to the cabinet secretary in August last year.

The probe agency filed a first information report (FIR) against Asthana in October last year. On the intervening night of October 23 and 24, the government divested both of their powers. Rao took charge as the interim director for the first time on the intervening night of October 23 and 24.

Verma challenged the government order in the top court and it conditionally reinstated him as the CBI chief on January 8, saying that only the selection panel could remove him. The panel decided by a majority decision of 2-1 to remove Verma on January 10.

Besides the PM and Kharge, the panel meeting was attended by justice Sikri as a nominee of chief justice Gogoi, who didn’t participate since he had heard Verma’s petition.

In between all this, the government initiated the process of looking for Verma’s successor.

Officers from the four oldest serving batches of the Indian Police Service, from 1982 to 1985, will be in contention for the post of CBI director as per the guidelines set by the Supreme Court. Their suitability for the job will depend on criteria such as seniority, integrity and experience in the investigation of anti-corruption cases.

First Published: Jan 24, 2019 12:47 IST

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