A high-powered selection committee led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that met this evening to appoint a new CBI chief did not come to a conclusive decision and is likely to meet again sometime next week to finalise its pick. The country’s central probe agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI has been in turmoil for the last three months and not had a full-time chief.
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, who is one of the three members of the high-powered panel along with the PM and Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, after the meeting at PM’s residence, said, “No decision today. The meeting can be scheduled anytime next week.”
The senior Congress leader said the panel was presented with a list of 70 to 80 names without any details of what all they had worked upon. “Both the Chief Justice and I said we need more information about who served in what position, competence etc. Both of us requested that next meet be called at the earliest,” Mr Kharge said.
Today’s meeting came nearly two weeks after Alok Verma was removed as the CBI boss by the high-powered panel in a 2:1 majority verdict.
Sources in the PM’s office had yesterday said IPS officers from the 1982-1985 batches were in contention for the post. The government has shortlisted candidates based on their seniority, integrity, experience in probing anti-corruption cases and most importantly, their experience of working in the CBI or handling vigilance matters.
Sources say among those whose names have been shortlisted include 1983 batch officer Shivanand Jha, who is serving as DGP Gujarat, BSF Director General Rajnikant Mishra, CISF Director General Rajesh Ranjan, Director General NIA YC Modi and Mumbai Police Commissioner Subodh Jaiswal.
“If the matter is stuck on seniority, then the government may go with Jha. PM knows him also as he only had appointed Jha as Commissioner of Police Ahmedabad,” explains a senior bureaucrat.
Mr Jha retires in 2021.
It is also being debated that if post of DGP Gujarat falls vacant then the Modi government may try to rehabilitate former CBI No. 2 Rakesh Asthana there.
According to the bureaucrat, Director General NIA YC Modi is another strong contender for the post. “He has RSS affiliations also and has worked in CBI for long,” he said. YC Modi also part of the Special Investigation Team probing Gujarat riots.
Director General BSF RK Mishra is also being considered for the top CBI post, say sources, adding he is said to be close to Principal Secretary to PM Nipender Mishra. Mumbai Police Commissioner Subodh Jaiswal is also known for his RSS links, say sources.
Alok Verma’s removal from the top post had created a political storm.
The decision of the special panel was based on a report by the anti-corruption watchdog Central Vigilance Commission on the allegations against the officer. Mallikarjun Kharge had given a dissenting view, citing that the allegations against Mr Verma were unsubstantiated.
Mr Verma claimed he was transferred on basis of “false, unsubstantiated and frivolous allegations” made by a person “inimical to him”. The officer, who was retiring by the end of this month, quit a day later, refusing to take charge as the Chief of Fire Services.