SC to hear plea against Asthana’s appointment; Cong too complains to PM.
New Delhi: With the Supreme Court on Wednesday agreeing to hear on December 9 a plea challenging the recent appointment of Rakesh Asthana, a Gujarat cadre IPS officer, as the interim director of the CBI, the entire process has been marred by a major controversy. Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, has also written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi complaining that the entire selection process has been “vitiated and is being manipulated to preempt the decision to be arrived at in the meeting of the selection committee for the CBI chief.”
“Okay. It will come up on Friday,” a bench comprising Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and L. Nageswara Rao said after advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO Common Cause, mentioned the plea. The petition, filed by the NGO, alleged that the Centre took a series of steps in a “completely mala fide, arbitrary and illegal manner to ensure that Mr Asthana was given the charge of CBI director”. It has claimed that the government did not convene a meeting of the selection committee comprising the PM, the leader of the largest Opposition party and the Chief Justice of India, even though it was fully aware that Anil Sinha was going to demit the office of the CBI director on December 2.
Mr Asthana, an IPS officer of 1984-batch, was elevated as the additional director in the agency on December 2 when CBI special director R.K. Dutta, who was reportedly among the front-runners for the top post, was shifted to the ministry of home affairs (MHA) as a special secretary. The PIL claimed that the government “prematurely curtailed” the tenure and transferred Mr Dutta to the MHA on November 30 — just two days before Mr Sinha was slated to demit office.
Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, has also written to the Prime Minister and questioned the appointment of Mr Asthana as the interim director of the CBI. He alleged a meeting of a committee that chooses the CBI chief — made up of the PM, the CJI and the leader of the largest Opposition party in the Lok Sabha — was deliberately not called to “facilitate giving the charge to a junior officer”.