New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday adjourned the matter regarding the appointment of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) interim Director Rakesh Asthana, to January 17.
The Centre told the top court that the appointment of Asthana as the acting director is not illegal or contrary to the court’s judgement.
The plea, filed by NGO Common Cause, has alleged that the Centre took a series of steps in a “completely malafide, arbitrary and illegal manner to ensure that Asthana was given the charge of CBI director”.
The PIL contends that after Anil Sharma’s term as the CBI director came to end on December 2, and it was incumbent upon the government to convene a meeting comprising of the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition and Chief of Justice of India for the appointment of a new director.
“However, the government took a series of steps in a completely mala fide, arbitrary and illegal manner to ensure that Rakesh Asthana was given the charge as CBI Director,” the petition stated.
Listing these steps, it said that just two days before incumbent Director Anil Sinha was to step down on December 2, 2016, Special Director R.K. Dutta was transferred to the Home Ministry by creating a post of Special Secretary, upgrading by two layers, the post of the joint secretary.
The PIL says that this was done to hamper the chances of Dutta stepping into the shoes of Sinha as he was number two in the hierarchy of the investigating agency.
The petition stated that the Central Government did not convene meeting of the selection committee even though it was fully aware that Sharma was going to demit the office of CBI.
“This deliberate dereliction was in complete violation of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946, as amended by the Lokpal Act, 2013,” it stated.
Asthana had earlier held several important positions in Gujarat Police. He was also part of a Special Investigative Team (SIT) set up by the Gujarat Government to probe the Godhra train burning case.
The petition alleges that the government wanted to appoint its own choice as interim CBI Director “even if it meant bypassing the statutory law, the norms of propriety, and the directions contained in the Vineet Narain’s judgement”.
“The judgment in Vineet Narain’s case had clearly held that the tenure of CBI Director would be two years. This was to ensure that there is no ad-hocism in the appointment and functioning of the CBI Director,” the petition states.
“Therefore, the petitioner submits that the government must be directed to comply with the mandate of the law and call for the meeting of the selection committee as per the DSPE Act, 1946 as amended by Lokpal Act, 2013,” the petition added.