Scurry to pick CBI chief

Scurry to pick CBI chief

By: || Updated: 20 Nov 2014 02:35 AM
New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government faces a legislative speed test — it has less than a fortnight to select the new CBI chief.




If the appointment is not made before December 2, current director Ranjit Sinha’s retirement date, the Centre can appoint a special director as acting director or grant the incumbent an extension.


The first option would be a departure from convention. Only once in recent memory has a CBI director got an extension. Ashwani Kumar, who went on to be governor later, had served two extra months.


Giving Sinha an extension could spark a row as he has faced allegations of meeting some 2G and coal case accused at his home. The matter is in the Supreme Court.


To pick Sinha’s successor, the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act — under which the CBI was set up —will have to amended to include leader of the largest Opposition party in the Lok Sabha in the selection panel, instead of the existing provision that mentions the leader of the Opposition.


Under current norms, the Prime Minister, the leader of the Opposition and the Chief Justice of India (CJI) pick from a shortlist of names.


Since there is no leader of the Opposition in this Lok Sabha, a single-line amendment would be brought. “It would say that the leader of the Opposition party with the highest number of seats will be part of the committee,” said a source, adding the Congress would get the slot.


As Parliament’s winter session starts on November 23, the amendment will have to be passed in both Houses and signed by the President within a working week. Then, the search panel, including the leader of the largest Opposition party, will have to pick a name.


“We are sure the amendment will be passed within a few days of the session and the selection made before December 2,” said a government source.


But a question remained on why the Centre did not find a solution to the problem earlier. The Modi government was said to have initially considered going ahead with only the Prime Minister and CJI H.L. Dattu. However, indications that the CJI would object prompted “a course correction”, sources said.


Though the Centre knew that rules governing selection had to be changed in the absence of a leader of the Opposition, it was undecided on the amendment. Otherwise, it could have issued an ordinance. Under convention, ordinances are not issued once a session has been announced.


-The Telegraph, Calcutta

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