Centre, TN govt slug it out over Archana's appointment to CBI

Centre, TN govt slug it out over Archana's appointment to CBI

Centre, TN govt slug it out over Archana's appointment to CBI

The Tamil Nadu government led J Jayalalitha and the Centre are clearly heading for a showdown over the appointment of senior IPS officer Archana Ramasundaran as the first additional director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), if one goes by the recent developments and the affidavits filed in the Supreme Court on the issue.

 While the Centre justifies her appointment to the top post in CBI, the state government stoutly opposes it on the ground that she was not relieved from the post of chairperson of Tamil Nadu Uniformed Services Recruitment Board.

Better or stained relations between the Centre and the State can be kept apart. However, the delay in relieving a senior IPS officer, who was set to take up a much coveted post at the Centre, could ruin Archana’s chances of becoming the first woman director of the country’s premier investigative agency. "One has to be proud that she (Archana) got a prestigious post in Delhi. She has four years of service and her chances becoming the director were bright,” said sources in CBI in Chennai.Contending that the state government sat on her plea for three months seeking relieve order her from previous posting in Tamil Nadu Archana had allegedly unilaterally joined the CBI on deputation after the CBI director Ranjit Sinha had pushed for her case and it was cleared by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) headed by then prime minister Manmohan Singh from a panel of five names.

Soon after she joined the CBI, the state government suspended her saying she had not obtained prior approval. As the issue was dragged to the Supreme Court through a writ petition filed by a journalist opposing her appointment, the TN government too joined in, raising uncertainty about her continuance in the post.

  That there was political connection to her deputation to the CBI could not be ruled out as her husband Ramasundaram was an IAS officer with the state government and was considered ‘close’ to the previous DMK regime headed by M Karunanidhi. Considered an ‘intelligent and outstanding’ officer in some quarters, she was pushed to an inconsequent post after the AIADMK came to power.

  The Tamil Nadu government’s recent suspension order said Archana joining the CBI was illegal as she went on deputation without being formally relieved by the state government. It appears that Jayalalitha also felt that DMK was behind Archana’s appointment as it wanted to save Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi in the 2G scam which was being handled by the CBI. 

  “She chose to go out of Tamil Nadu since she was not appointed as DGP. Moreover, she got caught in the crossfire between the Centre and the state,” a senior IPS officer said on condition of anonymity. He said Archana was eager to take up the top police post as it was hers by virtue of seniority.

Defending, Tamil Nadu’s stance, another senior IPS officer said that like other states, Tamil Nadu too has been hesitating to simply give away outstanding senior officers to the Centre. “It is not clear why she has to shift her base to Centre since there are more perks serving the State than in Delhi,” he said.

  The Supreme Court had recently raised questions on how Archana joined the CBI as the additional director when she was not relieved from her parent cadre, Tamil Nadu and it had stayed her appointment. But the Centre defended her appointment and pleaded for allowing her to discharge the duties. Tamil nadu, however, apposed the Centre’s move.

No violations  

During one of the hearings, attorney general Mukul Rohatgi told the apex Court that there was no violation in the procedure in the appointment of Archana for the CBI post. 

Since she was a meritorious officer, she should be allowed to discharge her functions, he said and urged the court to vacate the stay order. Her counsel Amarendra Saran submitted that the Tamil Nadu government did not respond for three months to her plea for relieving her and she had to join duty on May 8 after she was asked to join.The CJI asked counsel for parties “how did she join without being relieved by Tamil Nadu. This is the further flaw in the appointment brought to our notice by the state. She cannot join without being permitted. If the state government has not given permission then her joining the CBI is meaningless.” Continuation of the stay order is justified in the light of the contentions raised by the state government, the CJI said.

Archana, who was promoted as ADGP, Crime Branch CID during the DMK regime, was now empanelled for the post of DGP. Dispelling her apprehensions that PIL being heard by the court could come in the way of her being considered for the position of DGP, the court said that it had nothing to do with her ‘competence’ and ‘merit.’

  After this clarification, the court adjourned the hearing as the central government sought time to respond to Tamil Nadu government's affidavit opposing her appointment to the CBI post. However, sources the Tamil Nadu home department, which is controlling the state police, said the state government will go to any extent to justify its stand. 

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