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Process to pick CBI chief vitiated, Kharge charges in letter to Modi

The government, however, has clarified that Dutta only held a supervisory role and therefore his removal would not impact the probe.
 

Published: 07th December 2016 11:24 PM  |   Last Updated: 08th December 2016 03:21 PM   |  A+A-

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Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge. | (File Photo | EPS)

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The much-anticipated meeting of the cross-political committee headed by the Prime
Minister which selects the head of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has been anticipated for the past two weeks. But it has not just not taken place, it has not even been scheduled, says leader of the main opposition party in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge.

Waiting for a call for the meeting, Kharge has shot off a letter to the Prime Minister questioning the delay and the “deliberate” appointment of Gujarat cadre IPS officer Rakesh Asthana as the acting chief of CBI.

In the letter, Kharge alleged that he suspects that the meeting has not been called just to facilitate Asthana’s appointment as the acting CBI chief. “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,” Kharge alleged in his letter.

While talking to Express, he explained that the government was not only expected to call a meeting before the retirement of Anil Sinha, the previous CBI chief, it “is also expected to give a short-list of three candidates” to the committee members for “fair non-partisan selection” process.

The Committee that chooses the CBI chief comprises of the PM, Chief Justice of India and the leader of the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha (in this case the Congress). Kharge alleged that Asthana, a junior officer, “is being thrust upon the committee”. While Asthana, a 1984-batch officer has ‘virtually’ succeeded Sinha who retired last week, R K Dutta who was expected to be the next CBI chief, was shifted to the Union Home Ministry as Additional Secretary.

Dutta was in charge of two high-profile corruption cases — the coal allocation and the 2G case. What made his transfer rather surprising was that it happened despite the Supreme Court ordering that no officers connected with these two cases be removed from the investigation. The government, however, has clarified that Dutta only held a supervisory role and therefore his removal would not impact the probe.

However, Asthana’s appointment also was challenged in the Supreme Court by lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan. The petition too raises questions on a meeting of the selection committee not being
called to decide on the next CBI chief and Dutta’s transfer days before the post fell vacant.



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