Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, a member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led selection committee, has raised objection to the appointment of Rishi Kumar Shukla as the director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), according to sources. Former Madhya Pradesh Police chief Shukla was on Saturday appointed the chief of the CBI for a fixed tenure of two years. Shukla, a 1983-batch IPS officer, is at present chairman of Madhya Pradesh Police Housing Corporation in Bhopal.
Kharge sent a dissent note to Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying the criterion in selecting the CBI director was diluted to include investigation experience only and not experience in investigating anti-corruption cases. In the two-page note, he said the three-member committee, chaired by the prime minister and in which he is a member along with Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, has violated the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (DSPE) that governs the CBI and the Supreme Court judgements.
"By including officers who do not have experience in investigating anti-corruption cases, committee is in violation of DSPE Act and Supreme Court judgements guiding CBI Director's appointment," Kharge said.
"Seniority cannot be only criterion in appointment to such a critical post and experience in anti-corruption cases and prior experience of having served in the organisation should also be considered," said the Congress leader in his dissent note.
Kharge had raised objections on the names of probable contenders proposed by the government a selection committee meeting on Friday. During the second meeting of the committee on Friday, the government is understood to have put forth a few names of officers who could be considered for appointment as the CBI director, they said.
However, these names were objected to by Kharge. Senior IPS officers of 1984 batch, Javeed Ahmed, Rajni Kant Misra and SS Deswal, were said to be among the top contenders for the coveted post.
Shukla has been appointed in place of Alok Kumar Verma, who was removed from the post of CBI Director on January 10. Shukla was recently transferred from the post of Director General of Madhya Pradesh Police to the police housing corporation.
The appointment comes following two meeting of the selection committee held on January 24 and February 1. Shukla's name was short-listed during the second meeting of the selection committee held on Friday.
The development assumes significance as on Friday, the Supreme Court had said it was "averse" to the arrangement of an interim CBI Director and the Centre should "immediately" appoint a regular chief of the probe agency.
Hitting Kharge back, Union Minister Jitendra Singh claimed that the Congress leader tried to "manipulate" the criteria for selection of CBI chief with the ulterior motive of accommodating some of his preferred officers. He also hit out at Kharge for "giving his own version" of the panel's deliberations to the media.
"Kharge tried to manipulate the objective criteria, based on independent and impartial assessment, to select CBI Director...He wanted to include some officers of his preference in the short-list of candidates," Singh, the Union Minister of State for Personnel, told news agency PTI.
The post of CBI Director is "sensitive" and "important", and it is not good to keep an interim director of the agency for longer period, the top court observed and sought to know as to why the government has not made the appointment yet.
The post of the CBI chief has been lying vacant since January 10 after the unceremonious exit of Verma, who had been engaged in a bitter fight with Gujarat-cadre IPS officer Rakesh Asthana over corruption charges.
Both Verma and Asthana had accused each other of corruption. M Nageswara Rao has been working as the interim CBI chief after Verma's ouster. Friday's meeting was held at the prime minister's residence -- that lasted for over an hour -- and attended by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Kharge, who is the leader of the largest opposition party in Lok Sabha.
(With PTI inputs)