As CBI imbroglio continues, hunt for new agency chief begins

As CBI imbroglio continues, hunt for new agency chief begins

Courtesy : Nationalist Bureau08/12/2018 08:37

The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has started the exercise of compiling the list of officers at the director general level eligible for selection as the next chief of the CBI, people familiar with the matter said.

This is being done even as the Supreme Court is hearing Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director Alok Kumar Verma’s case challenging the government’s decision to divest him of his powers.

The list compiled by the DoPT usually forms the poll from which the CBI director is chosen by a committee comprising the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, and the Chief Justice of India.

Verma is to retire on January 31, 2019.

A home ministry official said the process of compiling the list of officers is a routine one, done every two years, and has nothing to do with the Verma case.

On October 23, the government divested both Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana of their powers after an internecine battle between the two roiled the federal probe agency.

Asthana wrote a letter to the cabinet secretary in August complaining about Verma’s integrity. The CBI filed a complaint against Asthana on October 15 alleging corruption.

According to guidelines set by the Supreme Court in 2004, officers from the four oldest serving batches of the Indian Police Service —from 1982 to 1985 — will be in contention for the post.

Their suitability for the job will depend on criteria such as seniority, integrity and experience in the investigation of graft cases. In terms of experience in probing corruption cases, prior experience of working in CBI or handling vigilance matters in cadre will get weightage.

By virtue of seniority, integrity and experience in probing anti-corruption cases, the officers who could be in the pool include special secretary (internal security) in the Union home ministry Rina Mitra (1983 batch), Border Security Force chief Rajnikant Mishra, National Investigation Agency chief Y C Modi, Indo-Tibetan Border Police chief SS Deswal, Central Industrial Security Force chief Rajesh Ranjan, director of national institute of criminology and forensic science Javeed Ahmad, and Research & Analysis Wing special secretary Vivek Johri (all 1984 batch).

Besides Mitra, all of them are also batchmates of CBI special director Rakesh Asthana, who is now fighting a legal battle in the Delhi high court to quash the FIR against him by his own agency.

Rajasthan police chief O P Galhotra, Railway Protection Force chief Arun Kumar and Uttar Pradesh Police’s  Director General-rank officer H C Awasthi (all from 1985 batch) will also be contention for the top pose in the CBI.

All of them have served in CBI earlier.

“The ministry of personnel has sought names of officers eligible to become the agency chief from the batches of 1982 to 1985 of the IPS. The home ministry has provided these names to the personnel ministry,” a home ministry official said.

A 1984 batch IPS officer whose name figures in the list confirmed the initiation of the process.

“The list has reached the ministry of personnel,” the officer said.

Once the officers are shortlisted, the ministry of personnel will seek vigilance clearance for them.

“The vigilance clearance is sought from the state the officers belong to, from the ministry of home affairs since it is cadre controlling authority for the IPS officers and the Central Vigilance Commission, the top vigilance body of the country,” said N R Wasan, former chief of the Bureau of Police Research and Development.

The ministry of personnel will send the list of all eligible officers to the committee headed by the prime minister which will deliberate and recommend a name or names of officers to the government which will issue the final order.

“Anil Sinha was first CBI chief who was appointed under the new process in 2014,” the official said.

A government official, meanwhile, refuted reports that the Centre was considering appointing an officer on special duty of director general rank to look after the CBI’s affairs or even posting an IAS officer in a supervisory role at the agency.

“The Government of India strongly refutes this imputation. It is clarified that the government has taken the step of divesting the present Director and Special Director of the CBI of their powers under section 4(2) of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 as an interim measure,” the official said.

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