CBI bill in Lok Sabha taken up amid uproar
New Delhi: Amid the uproar and a Congress walkout, Lok Sabha on Tuesday took up a bill under which absence of any of the three members of the selection committee to choose CBI chief will not hinder the exercise, with the government saying there was no deliberate design in this.
Minister of State for Department of Personnel and Training Jitendra Singh moved the Delhi Special Police Establishment (Amendment) Bill, 2014, for consideration.
Singh said the change in the Act was being made to ensure that the crucial decision on selection of CBI director does not remain in "suspension" or is delayed just because one of three members is not present.
"There is nothing deliberate by the government in it," he said. The Amendment Bill was moved amid resistance by opposition parties, which questioned the "hurry" in which it was brought. Members of Congress, TMC and SP staged a walk out.
Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge demanded that a discussion on black money be taken up first as he accused the ruling BJP of using the issue to "defame" UPA-II dispensation and sought its apology.
Rejecting the opposition contention that the bill was being pushed in haste, Singh said the current CBI was going to retire soon and a successor had to be chosen at the earliest. CBI Director Ranjit Sinha will be retiring on December 2.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said the government was ready for a debate any time but discussion on it was necessary as it had to be passed tomorrow so that a new director could be appointed in time before the current director retires next week.
"Such bill should not be taken up in a hurry. We will cooperate... If you insist, we are not going to be a party to this," Kharge said, leading a walk out by his party MPs who were joined by TMC and SP members.
As per the DSPE (Amendment) Bill, 2014, Section 4 (A) of the Act will be amended to include the leader of the single largest opposition party in the panel that selects the CBI Director when there is no recognised Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Lok Sabha.
"No appointment of a Director shall be invalid merely by reason of any vacancy or absence of a member in the committee," the bill said.
The enactment of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act (also known as Lokpal Act) this year has automatically amended the DSPE Act to make changes in the selection panel.
Under the existing provisions, the CBI chief has to be appointed by the central government on the basis of recommendation of the selection committee headed by the Prime Minister, and comprising the LoP and the Chief Justice of India or a Supreme Court judge nominated by him, as members.
Before the Lokpal Act amended the DSPE Act, a committee headed by Central Vigilance Commissioner used to recommend names for CBI Director. The amendments in the DSPE Act are being brought in by the government as there is no recognised LoP in the Lok Sabha.
Congress with 44 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha has emerged as the second largest party after BJP's 280 but fell short by 11 to stake claim for the LoP's post for which it requires a minimum strength of 55.
"Keeping in view the legislative practice followed in this regard, it is proposed to provide that no appointment shall be invalid merely by reason of any vacancy or absence of a member in the Committee," reads the statement of objects and reasons of the bill.
The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has, meanwhile, started the process for appointment of new chief of the investigating agency as Sinha's tenure is ending on December 2.