CBI chief appointment: Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge sends dissent note to PMO

Congress leader and leader of the Opposition in Lok Saba, Mallikarjun Kharge during an interview to The Hindu, in New Delhi on March 28, 2018.

Congress leader and leader of the Opposition in Lok Saba, Mallikarjun Kharge during an interview to The Hindu, in New Delhi on March 28, 2018.   | Photo Credit: V. Sudershan

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge on Saturday sent a letter of dissent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the government named 1983 batch IPS officer Rishi Kumar Shukla as the new chief of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Mr. Kharge, in his letter, has argued that the three member Selection Committee, that includes Prime Minister Modi and the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, has diluted the principles laid down in Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act and the Vineet Naraian judgement.

"By including officers who do not have experience in investigating anti-corruption cases, the Committee is in violation of the DSPE Act and the Supreme Court judgements that guide the appointment of the Director, CBI,” Mr. Kharge said in his letter.

He argued that officers were shortlisted "on the basis of seniority, annual confidential reports (ACRs) and total experience in investigation and anti-corruption of 100 months or more." But the newly named CBI chief didn't have any anti-corruption experience, claimed Mr. Kharge in his note whose contents have been accessed by The Hindu.

"All three aspects — seniority, integrity and experience in investigation of anti-corruption cases — should be given equal weightage to get the best suited officers in the shortlist," Mr. Kharge argued in his dissent note.

"Seniority cannot be the only criterion in an appointment to such a critical post and experience in anti-corruption cases and prior experience of having served the organization should also be considered seriously," he said in the note.

A source familiar with the developments said though the government had shortlisted 16 officers, it was reduced to a panel of five names for consideration of the Selection Committee when it met on Friday.

In the meeting, the Congress leader, representing Opposition parties, pointed out that Mr. Javed Ahmad, a 1984 Uttar Pradesh cadre officer, was best suited for the post.

According to the Opposition leader, Mr. Ahmad, who had served in the CBI as a joint director earlier, had a total experience of 303 months, including 160 months of handling anti-corruption cases.

This was the highest for any of the five officers under consideration. Two other officers – Rajiv Rai Bhatnagar, a 1983 UP cadre officer and Sudeep Lakhtakia of Telangana – also had some experience in handling anti-corruption assignments.

"It is important to restore the the image and integrity of the CBI as a premier institution that is fighting against corruption. Hence, prior experience of having serve the institution should be given primacy after having shortlisted candidates based on their seniority and their ACR," Mr. Kharge's note argued.

PTI adds:

‘Kharge tried to manipulate CBI chief selection criteria’

Mr. Kharge tried to “manipulate” the criteria for selection of CBI chief with the ulterior motive of accommodating officers of his choice in the short-list of candidates, Union Minister Jitendra Singh has claimed.

He also hit out at Mr. Kharge for “giving his own version” of the panel’s deliberations to the media.

“Kharge tried to manipulate the objective criteria, based on independent and impartial assessment, to select CBI Director...He wanted to include some officers of his preference in the short-list of candidates,” Mr. Singh, the Union Minister of State for Personnel, told PTI.

The Minister said Justice Gogoi fully endorsed the objective criteria applied for selecting the head of the CBI.

Mr. Singh, whose Ministry is the nodal department for the CBI, said the CBI Director’s selection was made in the objective criteria based on “seniority, service record and the experience in anti-corruption/investigation” areas.

Mr. Singh said, “We have reasons to find fault in the manner Kharge is conducting himself in meeting after meeting violating all the norms of propriety by speaking to media and giving his own version of deliberations happening in the high-powered panel’s meet“.

“Not only this, in his frequent comments to media, Kharge has gone to the extent of making unsavourily and sarcastic remarks against the prime minister and the government,” the Minister said.

Mr. Singh said one should not forget how Mr. Kharge was accommodated in the three- member selection panel by the Modi government.

“Established rules envisaged that the selection panel will have the Leader of Opposition (LoP) as one of the members. But as the Congress did not get enough numbers in the 2014 general elections (to be accorded the status), it was Prime Minister Narendra Modi who went out of the way to include leader of Congress (the largest opposition party) in the panel... in order to add further transparency and ensure balance in the selection procedure,” he said.

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 3:27:52 PM |

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