Congress, BJP spar over appointment of CBI chief
The UPA government on Friday found itself on the defensive after the BJP said the appointment of Ranjit Kumar Sinha as the next CBI Director preempted an opportunity to select the country’s premier investigation wing’s chief in a transparent manner as suggested by a parliamentary committee report on Lokpal.
Leaders of the Opposition in both Houses of Parliament, Sushma Swaraj in the Lok Sabha and Arun Jaitely in Rajya Sabha, wrote a joint letter to the prime minister requesting him to keep Sinha’s appointment be kept in “abeyance” till the recommendation of the committee on appointment of Lokpal “becomes a law of the land”.
Countering the charge, Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy said Sinha’s selection has been done “in a fair manner following the due process” while Telecom minister Kapil Sibal said: “the government decision-making cannot stop just because there is some legislation awaited.”
The Rajya Sabha’s select committee on Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill of 2011 was tabled in the Upper House on Friday. One of the several recommendations of the committee was the appointment of the CBI director, a deviation from the existing system of selection by a panel headed by the CVC.
“The director of the CBI will be appointed by a collegium comprising Prime Minister, the leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India,” the panel suggested in the report.
“The manner in which the government has made this appointment, hours before the tabling of this recommendation in the Rajya Sabha, persuades us to draw the conclusion that the government wanted to preempt the possibility of (implementing) this recommendation at least in the present appointment,” Sushma and Jaitely said in their letter which placed on record their “strong disappointment and disapproval of this act of government”.
Minister of State V Narayanasamy further said: “Three names were finalised, the Prime Minister is the authority to decide... As far as BJP is concerned, they are not behaving as a responsible Opposition and are not allowing the House to function. They want either their way or no way. It is not possible in a democracy.”
A 1974 batch Bihar cadre IPS officer, Indo-Tibetan Border Force DG Sinha emerged as the front runner from a panel of three police officers, which, apart from him, included NIA DG SC Sinha and UP police ADGP Atul.
The Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) headed by the prime minister selects the CBI director who enjoys two-year fixed tenure.
The government had to announce the successor to CBI director AP Singh who is retiring in a week’s time.