New Delhi, Dec. 5 : The Supreme Court was moved on Monday seeking the quashing of the appointment of Rakesh Asthana as interim, Director, CBI and direction to the Central government to initiate the process for appointment of a regular director of the premier investigating agency as per the law.
The PIL petition moved by registered society – Common Cause – has contended that the government has acted in a mala fide, arbitrary and illegal manner to ensure the appointment of Asthana as interim director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Telling the court that Asthana had headed the SIT that had probed Godhra train burning case and held several important positions in Gujarat Police, Common Cause has said that “the Government took a series of steps in a completely mala fide, arbitrary and illegal manner to ensure that Mr. Rakesh Asthana … was given the charge of CBI Director”.
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 Union 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 frustrate the chances of Dutta stepping into the shoes of Sinha as he was number two in the hierarchy of the investigating agency.
The petition pointed out that it was for the first time in one decade that an interim director was thrust on the investigating agency. It said that the process for the appointment of Sinha’s successor should have commenced well in advance.
Common Cause in its PIL has pointed to Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 and Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, under which an officer to occupy the office of CBI Director is selected by a committee comprising the Prime Minister, leader of the single largest opposition party and the Chief Justice of India (or any judge nominated by him).
This shows 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 (of the apex court) … in Vineet Narain’s case”.
It also recalled the recent direction of the top court directing the government to appoint a full-time Director of the Enforcement Directorate in a time frame.