PMO responds to Kharge’s letter, asks him to indicate convenience for meet on CBI chief

The Prime Minister's Office today asked Mallikarjun Kharge to spell out his convenience after December 16 so that a meeting could be convened of the Selection Committee to choose new CBI Director.
PMO, Kharge, CBI chief, Rakesh Asthana Source: PTI
India TV Politics Desk New Delhi December 08, 2016 22:53 IST

Responding to Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge’s letter on the appointment of new CBI Director, the Prime Minister's Office today asked him to spell out his "convenience" after December 16 so that a meeting could be convened of the Selection Committee. 

Minister of State in the PMO Jitendra Singh, who is also in-charge of Department of Personnel, wrote to Kharge in response to his letter sent yesterday, sources said. 

Singh asked Kharge to indicate his "convenience" after December 16 so that the meeting of the Committee could be scheduled, the sources said. 

In his letter, Kharge had asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to immediately convene a meeting of the Selection Committee to select the new CBI Director. 

Kharge is a member of the Committee which comprises the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India and the Leader of Opposition or leader of the largest party in opposition in Lok Sabha. 

The Congress leader, in his letter, had raised strong concerns over the appointment of Gujarat cadre IPS officer Rakesh Asthana as interim director of CBI and alleged that the process of selection of the new director of the investigation agency has been vitiated. 

He has alleged that a meeting of the selection committee was deliberately not called, so as to “facilitate giving the charge to a junior officer.”

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 frontrunners for the top post, was shifted to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) as a Special Secretary. 

A PIL has also been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the appointment which will be heard tomorrow.

 

The PIL claimed that the government had "prematurely curtailed" the tenure and transferred Dutta to MHA on November 30 -- just two days before Sinha was slated to demit office. 

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 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 Prime Minister, 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 CBI director on December 2. 

This is first time in ten years and only the second time in history that the CBI does not have a regular chief.

Asthana headed the SIT that looked into the Godhra train burning of 2002. He would not even have made it to the list of possible appointees for the selection committee, given his junior position.

 
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