17 in Ministry of Home Affairs’ shortlist for new CBI chief

Rahul Tripathi
Asthana, a Gujarat-cadre IPS officer from the 1984 batch, was shortlisted in the initial list. (Express photo by Prem Nath Pandey)

Over a month to go for embattled CBI Director Alok Verma's term to end, the Union Home Ministry has firmed up a list of seniormost IPS officers from the 1983, 1984 and 1985 batches to succeed him. The initial list had 34 names, which in the past fortnight has been pruned to 17, officials familiar with the development said. The list of 17 has been sent to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), to be checked for "seniority, integrity and experience in the investigation of anti-corruption cases".

The final selection of the CBI chief is done on the basis of recommendations of a search committee comprising the Prime Minister as the chairperson, and including the Chief Justice of India and the Leader of Opposition. Verma, who was sent on leave along with his deputy Rakesh Asthana in October this year, will complete his two-year tenure on February 1, 2019.

From the 1983 batch, the names of Uttar Pradesh DGP O P Singh; Special Secretary (Internal Security), Ministry of Home Affairs, Rina Mitra (a Madhya Pradesh-cadre IPS officer); and Director General (DG), CRPF, Rajiv Rai Bhatnagar are said to be in the list. Some of the prominent names from the 1984 batch are DG, NIA, Y C Modi; DG, NSG, Sudeep Lakhtakia; DG, Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D), A P Maheshwari; Director of National Institute of Criminology and Forensic Sciences, MHA, S Javeed Ahmed; DG, BSF, Rajni Kant Misra; and DG, Sashastra Seema Bal, S S Deswal. While Ahmed has a long experience of working in the CBI, Misra is currently ahead in the race, sources said.

Asthana, a Gujarat-cadre IPS officer from the 1984 batch, was shortlisted in the initial list but with the Delhi High Court yet to quash the FIR against him registered by CBI Director Verma, officials said his name may not be part of the final list.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court reserved its judgment on a plea by Verma seeking reinstatement as CBI Director. The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), which has conducted investigations into the allegations against Verma, had highlighted alleged misuse of powers by the CBI Director in its report.

NIA DG Modi, who is among the top contenders for the post, is an IPS officer from Assam and Meghalaya cadre and was part of the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team that probed the 2002 Gujarat riots. The SIT had given then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi a clean chit in the Gulberg Society massacre. Before taking over as NIA DG in 2017, Y C Modi was an additional director in the CBI for two years.

From the 1985 batch the contenders are Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik and Kerala DGP Loknath Behera. The names, sources said, have been sent for vetting by the CVC, Special unit of CBI and the Intelligence Bureau. These officers will also be vetted for any adverse strictures by courts regarding them, their track records in acquittals in cases under them, and conviction if any in corruption and crime cases.

The final panel will consist of three names, which will be sent to the search committee. The appointment will eventually be made by the Prime Minister-led Appointments Committee of the Cabinet for a fixed tenure of 2 years.