Meeting of committee for appointment of CBI director to be convened after May 2: Centre to SC

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New Delhi, Apr 19 (PTI) The Centre Monday told the Supreme Court that the meeting of a high-powered committee consisting of the Prime Minister and others for appointment of CBI Director would be convened immediately after May 2.

In an affidavit filed in the apex court, the government has said that Secretary of Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) had contacted senior Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who is the leader of the single largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha and will be a member of the committee, on the issue.

“The Secretary (DoPT) was informed by Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury that he would not be available to participate in the meeting till May 2, 2021,” the affidavit said.

“In the light of the foregoing, the meeting of the committee under section 4A of the Act (Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946) shall be convened immediately after May 2, 2021,” it said.

The affidavit was filed by the Centre in the top court which is hearing a plea filed by NGO ‘Common Cause’ seeking a direction for appointment of a regular CBI director.

The affidavit said in terms of section 4A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act 1946, appointment to the post of CBI director is to be made by the Centre on the recommendation of a high-powered committee consisting of the Prime Minister, leader of opposition recognized as such in the House of the People or where there is no such leader of opposition, then the leader of the single largest opposition party in that House and the Chief Justice of India or judge of the Supreme Court nominated by him.

“It is submitted that the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, is the administrative department in the Government of India dealing with matters relating to the CBI,” it said.

“Accordingly, in order to convene a meeting of the aforementioned committee for the purpose of the appointment of the next Director of the CBI, the Secretary (DoPT) contacted the leader of the single largest opposition party in the House of the People (Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury),” the affidavit said.

It said that Praveen Sinha, who has been directed to look after the duties of the CBI director till the appointment is made, is the senior-most IPS officer posted in the rank of Additional Director, CBI.

The matter was listed for hearing on Monday before a bench headed by Justice L N Rao.

The apex court has posted the plea for hearing on May 13.

On April 5, the apex court had asked the Centre to consider convening before May 2 the meeting of the high-powered committee observing that “in-charge arrangements” for the post cannot go on.

On March 12, the top court had sought response from the Centre on the plea seeking direction for appointment of a regular CBI director.

The petitioner has alleged that the government has failed to appoint a regular CBI director as per section 4A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, on the expiry of term of Rishi Kumar Shukla on February 2.

It said the government has instead appointed Praveen Sinha as an interim director of the premier investigating agency.

The plea has also sought a direction to the Centre to initiate and complete the process of selection of the CBI director well in advance, at least one to two months before the date on which the vacancy to the post is about to occur.

“The director of the CBI is the final authority in the organization. He supervises all the work in the CBI and is responsible for constitution of investigating teams for probing cases. Hence, this court and later on Parliament have made determined efforts to enhance the functional autonomy of the CBI director and limit the extent of executive discretion in the matter of appointment of this key functionary,” it said.

The plea added that the appointment of regular CBI director as per the statutory law is necessary for upholding the rule of law and for enforcement of the rights of citizens under articles of the Constitution dealing with equality before law and protection of life and personal liberty.

Referring to an earlier judgement of the apex court, the plea said the top court had directed that Director Generals of Police (DGP) in the states should have a minimum tenure of at least two years irrespective of his date of superannuation.

“DGPs are the heads of police force in states and CBI is the premier central investigating agency. Both the DGPs as well as the CBI director have a minimum tenure of two years, as per the existing law of the land,” it said.

It said before Shukla’s two-year term as the CBI director came to an end on February 2, it was “incumbent on the central government to call for a meeting of the selection committee for the appointment of his successor as per the law, well in advance, so as to ensure a smooth transition.” “However, the central government has instead, vide order dated February 3, 2021, appointed Praveen Sinha as an interim/acting CBI director till the appointment of new CBI director, or until further orders,” it said. PTI ABA ABA RKS RKS