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Published On: Wed, Dec 7th, 2016

Cong. Leader Kharge’s Strongly Worded Letter To PM On CBI Chief Appointment

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kharge1NEW DELHI : The appointment of Rakesh Asthana, a Gujarat cadre officer, as acting chief of the CBI has become a major controversy, with the Congress’ Mallikarjun Kharge writing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to complain that “the entire process has been vitiated and is being manipulated to preempt the decision to be arrived at in the meeting of the selection committee.”
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The senior Congress leader has alleged that a meeting of a committee that chooses the CBI chief – made up of the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India and the leader of the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha, in this case Mr Kharge – was deliberately not called to  “facilitate giving the charge to a junior officer.”
The government has said it will respond to Mr Kharge’s letter, explaining the decision and why the selection committee did not meet. Rakesh Asthana, reportedly the government’s top choice for the post, was, as a 1984 batch Indian Police Service  or IPS officer, too junior to even make it to a panel of possible candidates for CBI chief to replace Anil Sinha who retired last week.

Critics allege that by appointing Mr Asthana as interim chief, the government not only circumvented the need to call a meeting of the selection committee, but also built an opportunity to make the officer CBI chief next year, when he will be senior enough to be part of the panel of candidates

In his letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Kharge has also referred to the sudden transfer of RK Dutta, the most senior officer in line to be the next CBI chief, only three days before Mr Sinha retired.

Mr Dutta, who was transferred to another department in the home ministry with a special post created for him, was in charge of two high-profile corruption cases – the coal allocation case and the 2G case.
Bureaucrats had expressed surprise at Mr Dutta’s transfer as the Supreme Court had ordered that no officers connected with the two cases should be removed. But government sources have argued that Mr Dutta was not an investigating officer in the cases and had a supervisory role and so his being moved out would not impact the cases.
The controversy has reached the Supreme Court via a petition challenging Mr Asthana’s appointment filed by lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan, which the court has agreed to hear. The petition too raises questions on a meeting of the selection committee not being called to decide on the next CBI chief and Mr Dutta’s transfer days before the post fell vacant.

This is the first time in 10 years and only the second time in the history of the CBI that the premier investigation agency does not have regular chief.

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