Ranjan Gogoi, the Chief Justice of India, on Monday recused himself from hearing a plea challenging appointment of M Nageswara Rao as the interim CBI director. The reason state by the Chief Justice is that he would be part of the selection committee meeting to choose the new CBI boss. The high-powered selection committee, which is set to meet on January 24, comprises the prime minister, the leader of the largest Opposition party and the CJI or his nominee judge of the top court. On Monday, a bench comprising the CJI and Justice Sanjiv Khanna was hearing a PIL filed by NGO Common Cause challenging the appointment of Rao as interim CBI director.
The high-powered panel will meet on Thursday and discuss probable names for the coveted post. The panel meeting will be attended by Chief Justice of India Rajan Gogoi or his nominee and Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, officials said.
Among the officers whose name would be discussed at the meeting are J K Sharma and Parminder Rai from the 1982 batch -- the senior most but lacking experience in the CBI. Rai, a Haryana-cadre officer who is set to retire on January 31, 2019, is Director General, State Vigilance Bureau, which makes him eligible for the post, the officials said.
Special Secretary (Internal Security), Home Ministry, Rina Mitra of the 1983-batch is another contender. She served in the CBI for five years and had a long tenure in Madhya Pradesh state vigilance where she handled serious corruption cases.
Mitra headed the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, an organisation tasked to combat organized wildlife crime, in its early years, they said, adding that if chosen, she would become the first woman chief of the CBI.
Current chief of National Institute of Criminology and Forensic Sciences Javeed Ahmed, a 1984-batch IPS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre, has served the CBI for 13 years -- starting as an SP to DIG from 1994 to 2002 and as joint director from 2009-14, they said.
He could not be promoted to post of Additional Director, CBI, as the then Home Secretary Anil Goswami had not cleared the empanelment file of the entire 1984-batch IPS officers till his term came to an end, they said.
Goswami was forced to resign for trying to stall the arrest of a former Union minister in a case, they said.
Ahmed was posted as Uttar Pradesh DGP and he led many initiatives like Twitter outreach campaign, UP100 and special help line for women.
Closely following him in terms of experience is O P Galhotra, former Rajasthan DGP, who has served in the agency for 11 years -- as an SP from 1996-2000 and as a Joint Director from 2008-15, the officials said.
HC Awasthy, Galhotra's batchmate from the UP cadre, also served in the agency for over eight years, they said.
Director General, National Investigation Agency, Y C Modi, a 1984-batch IPS officer of Assam-Meghalaya cadre, is a favourite in the race to the top post in the CBI.
YC Modi was part of the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team which probed the 2002 riots in Gujarat from 2010 to 2012. The SIT had cleared Narendra Modi who was then the chief minister of the state.
YC Modi was also part of the CBI team that probed the murder of former Gujarat minister Haren Pandya and arrested 12 accused. But the evidence was rejected by the Gujarat High Court which acquitted all the accused, they said.
Director General of CISF Rajesh Ranjan, a 1984-batch Bihar cadre officer, has served in the agency for nearly five years and also in Interpol.
He was never inducted into the CBI after 2011 as there were "vigilance issues", the officials said.
BSF Director General Rajni Kant Mishra, a 1984-batch officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre is also being considered a frontrunner for the post of the CBI Director, they said.
He is retiring in August, 2019 and had served for nearly five years in the agency.
Another contender DG Indo-Tibetan Border Police S S Deshwal has five years' experience of working in the CBI, they said.
Arun Kumar, a 1985-batch officer of the UP cadre, who led the first CBI team that probed the Aarushi case, is also in the race.
The report prepared by him indicting three servants of the Talwars in the Aarushi-Hemraj murder case was rejected by the then CBI chief Ashwani Kumar as he was not convinced by the evidence.
Other contenders from the 1985-batch include Rishi Raj Singh and Loknath Behera from Kerala cadre who have around 6 and 10 years' of experience in the CBI respectively.
Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik has also been shortlisted but he lacks experience in the agency, the officials said adding that experience in the vigilance unit of the state compensates it.
A 1979-batch IPS officer, Verma was locked in a bitter tussle with agency's Special Director Rakesh Asthana, a 1984-batch IPS officer.