Govt goes with Shukla's name despite Kharge's dissent

The government went ahead with appointing senior IPS officer Rishi Kumar Shukla as CBI chief despite Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge opposing the inclusion of his name in a panel of officers to be considered for the top post.

The government went ahead with appointing senior IPS officer Rishi Kumar Shukla as CBI chief despite Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge opposing the inclusion of his name in a panel of officers to be considered for the top post.

Kharge cited Shukla's inexperience in CBI, non-experience in investigating anti-graft cases as well as violation of Supreme Court guidelines and provisions of Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, which governs the affairs of the CBI, for excluding the name of Shukla, who is considered close to former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister and BJP leader Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

This could be the new flashpoint for the Congress and other Opposition parties. The issue is likely to have its echo in Parliament on Monday amid possibilities that some could even approach Supreme Court against the appointment.

"One cannot stand by and accept the dilution of norms when an appointment to such a crucial post is being made. By including officers who do not have experience in investigating anti-corruption cases, the committee is in violation of the DSPE Act and the Supreme Court judgements that guide the appointment of the Director, CBI," Kharge said in his dissent note.

Citing their inexperience in anti-corruption cases, Kharge, a member of the three-member committee, opposed the inclusion of names of Shukla and BPRD chief A P Maheshwari in the shortlist prepared by Selection Committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The third member of the panel is Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi.

Kharge said the panel prepared a list of five officers, which also included senior IPS officers Rajiv Rai Bhatnagar, Sudeep Lakhtakia and S Javed Ahmed, considering their total experience in general investigation as well as investigation of anti-corruption matters of 100 months or more, seniority and performance appraisal. The government on Saturday chose Shukla, whose name was second in the list, as the CBI chief.

According to Kharge, the criterion decided in the meeting has "diluted" the provisions in the DSPE Act and Supreme Court judgement, which talks about seniority, integrity and "experience in the investigation of anti-corruption cases only".

"Adding general investigative experience to experience in investigating anti-corruption to enhance overall experience has led to the inclusion of candidates who either have no experience or at best very little experience in the investigation of anti-corruption cases," Kharge said. Shukla has no experience in anti-corruption cases while his general investigation experience is cited as 117 months while that of Maheshwari's was a total of 147 months, including 14 months of anti-graft probes.

In his dissent note, Kharge gave a list of three eligible officers -- Ahmad, Bhatnagar and Lakhtakia in this order. Kharge had objected to the inclusion of Shukla and Maheshwari in the meeting itself and submitted an official note on Saturday.

He said seniority, integrity and experience should be given equal weightage to get the best-suited officers in the shortlist and seniority alone cannot be the only criteria in an appointment to such a critical position.

"It is important to restore the image and integrity of the CBI as a premier institution that is fighting against corruption. Hence, prior experience of having served in the institution should be given primacy after having short-listed candidates based on their seniority and their ACR (annual confidential report)," Kharge said adding he wanted the panel to recommend his list to the government. 

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Govt goes with Shukla's name despite Kharge's dissent

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