CJI Ramana Cites Past SC Rulings At CBI Chief Selection Meet; YC Modi, Asthana Out Of Race
YC Modi and Rakesh Asthana, two 1984-batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officers, were out of the race for Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director’s post just minutes into a meeting of a selection panel on Monday, after Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana cited past judgments of the Supreme Court that an official left with less than six months for retirement cannot become a police chief, sources told News18.
National Investigation Agency (NIA) chief YC Modi retires on May 31, while Border Security Force (BSF) director general Asthana’s tenure ends in August. Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) chief SS Deswal, too, did not make the cut because of this six-month criterion, according to the sources aware of the developments.
Soon after the meeting of the Prime Minister-led selection committee began, Leader of Opposition Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury — the third member of the panel — objected to the process of shortlisting of 16 names by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) from an initial list of 109. The sources said the Prime Minister asked Chowdhury to give his objection in writing.
CJI Ramana then pointed out that “rule of law must be followed” in selection of the next CBI director, the sources said. He cited three judgments — Prakash Singh, Vineet Narayan and PD Dinakaran — to put forth the argument that only officers who have six months or more of service left should be considered.
“Ultimately, officers who were number 11 onwards in the seniority list were finalised,” said a source aware of the details of the meeting involving Prime Minister Narendra Modi, CJI Ramana and Chowdhury.
Senior officers in CBI who spoke to News18 on condition of anonymity said the six-month criterion is a new development. Top court guidelines in the Prakash Singh case were enforced in the appointment of state director generals of police (DGPs), but this was probably the first time they were discussed for the CBI director’s appointment, the officials said.
Sources said the three officers who emerged as front-runners for the CBI director’s post are: Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) chief Subodh Jaiswal, Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) director general KR Chandra and special secretary (internal security) VSK Kaumudi. Of them, only Kaumudi has served in CBI before. But the sources said Jaiswal could make the cut on the basis of seniority. Rishi Kumar Shukla, the just-retired CBI director, did not have any experience in CBI before his appointment to the top post, they pointed out.
On Tuesday, CJI Ramana and Chowdhury were expected to send their views on each of these officers in a note to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). After that, a final order of appointment will be issued. The appointments committee of the cabinet, which has the Prime Minister and the home minister as its members, will issue the final order.
DoPT had initially drawn a list of 109 officers of 1984-87 batches. This list was trimmed to have 16 names, three hours before the selection committee was to meet. Along with the names of these 16 officers, DoPT sent an executive note and detailed profile of the contenders to the selection committee.
Chowdhury told News18 that he objected to this pruning since there was no clarity as to how DoPT had left out certain officers and included others. “I gave my objection to the process in writing, but did not oppose the names that were ultimately finalised,” he said.