Consider panel meeting for CBI director’s appointment before May 2: SC tells Centre

Consider panel meeting for CBI director's appointment before May 2: SC tells Centre

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday asked the central government to consider convening a meeting of the selection committee comprising the Chief Justice of India, the Prime Minister and the Leader of Opposition (LoP) before May 2 for the appointment of a regular Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director.

A bench of Justice L Nageswara Rao and Justice Vineet Saran asked the Centre to consider convening the meeting earlier after Attorney General KK Venugopal told the court that the meeting is likely to be convened on May 2.

“Take instructions why can you not hold the meeting earlier… Do it early instead of May 2,” said the Bench, while posting the matter for hearing on April 16.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO Common Cause, alleged that the government is delaying the meeting of the selection committee as it wants to bypass the present Chief Justice of India who is also part of the committee and retiring in April.

“They want the present Chief Justice of India to retire and want the succeeding Chief Justice of India to be in the meeting…They want to bypass the present Chief Justice of India,” Bhushan argued. 

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the government, termed Bhushan`s submission as “absurd”.Mehta said that the meeting was scheduled for May as there are assembly elections going on.

The bench asked the Centre to file its affidavit on the plea. Earlier, the apex court had issued notice to the Centre on a plea seeking appointment of a regular CBI Director by the selection committee of CJI, Prime Minister, and LoP as per law.

The PIL filed by the NGO Common Cause has stated that instead of appointing a regular director, the government has instead appointed an acting/interim director after the term of the previous CBI director got over.

“The government has failed to appoint the Director of CBI as per Section 4A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 on the expiry of the term of the last incumbent Director Rishi Kumar Shukla on February 2 this year and has instead, vide order dated February 3, appointed Praveen Sinha as an interim/acting CBI Director till the appointment of new CBI Director, or until further orders,” the plea added.

The PIL has also sought direction to the Centre to initiate and complete the process of selection of the CBI director well in advance, atleast one to two months before the date on which the vacancy in the post of CBI director is about to occur in the future.

The petition has pointed out that the top court in its judgement had clearly held that the tenure of CBI director would be two years, and this was to ensure that there is no ad-hocism in the appointment and functioning of the CBI director.

The petition stated that CBI, being a premier investigation agency in the country, investigates the corruption-related offences connected with the central and state government entities and the apex court has time and again entrusted important cases of corruption and violation of human rights to the CBI for investigation.

It, therefore, urged the apex court to “to issue an appropriate writ directing the Union of India to appoint a regular Director of CBI forthwith by following the procedure laid down in Section 4A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, as amended by the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013.”

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