S-G says govt. can reject sole name mooted for CBI post

The controversy surrounding the appointment of an Additional Director in the CBI took a new turn on Tuesday when it was revealed that Solicitor-General Mohan Parasaran had given an opinion that the government was not bound to accept a single-name recommendation by the Selection Committee.

Solicitor-General Mohan Parasaran, in his opinion to the Prime Minister on appointment of an Additional Director in the Central Bureau of Investigation, had said the Central government could choose from a panel of names recommended to it by the Selection Committee or, in the event of only a single name being recommended, the government has “sufficient discretion to reject such a name for cogent, reasonable, bona fide and non-arbitrary reasons, which should be able to withstand judicial scrutiny.”

The appointment of Archana Ramasundaram, a 1980 batch IPS officer of the Tamil Nadu cadre, as Additional Director, CBI, triggered a controversy when reports suggested that the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) had overlooked the Central Vigilance Commission’s recommendation of Ranjit Pachnanda, a 1983 batch IPS officer now posted in West Bengal.

The S-G maintained that Section 4C of the CVC Act envisaged recommendation of a panel of officers, from which the Central government shall pass orders of appointment as it thinks fit.

“The corollary of this interpretation would be that in the event that a panel of names has not been recommended, the Central government would not be bound to accept the recommendation of a single name made by the Selection Committee as that would tantamount to rendering the discretion vested in the Central government by virtue of the expression in the statute “as it thinks fit” nugatory and otiose,” Mr. Parasan said.

Sources in the government said the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) had named five senior officers, of 1980 to 1983 batches of the IPS, for consideration by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC): S. K. Bhagat, R.K. Pachnanda (both of the 1983 batch), Ashok Kumar of 1982 batch, Archana Ramasundaram of 1980 batch and Vivek Dube of 1981 batch of the IPS. Two of these officers are due to retire next year.

The CVC picked one name and sent it to the ACC which rejected it and asked for a complete panel. But the CVC once again sent the same name and the government rejected it again.

Some officers said there was no logic in selection of officers to the panel and the DoPT should have forwarded the names of all officers who had worked in the CBI or Anti-Corruption branches of State governments for consideration by the CVC.

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