A high-powered selection panel chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi shortlisted on Monday three candidates for the selection of new chief of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) with application of a rule that eliminated at least two key candidates.
In a 90-minute long meeting, the three-member panel including the PM, Chief Justice of India NV Ramana and Opposition leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury pinned on three candidates - former Maharashtra Director General of Police Subodh Kumar Jaiswal, Director General of Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) KR Chandra and Home Ministry Special Secretary VSK Kaumudi.
A report by NDTV quoting sources said that, during the meeting, Chief Justice Ramana cited a "six-month rule" of the Supreme court which has never been referred to before in the selection of a CBI director. Ramana emphasized on a judgement that stipulates officers who have less than six months to retire from service should not be considered for police chief posts. He demanded that the selection panel must comply with the law.
The source claimed that the rule disqualified two of the names seen to be at the top of the government's shortlist - Rakesh Asthana, the Border Security Force chief retiring on August 31, and National Investigation Agency chief YC Modi, retiring on May 31.
The Congress leader Chowdhury alleged that the government had taken up a casual approach in listing candidates and that the initial list contained 109 names, which were scaled down to 16 names by Monday around 1 PM.
"The way the procedure was followed, it was in conflict with the mandate of the committee. On May 11, I was given 109 names, and today by 1 pm, 10 names were shortlisted while by 4 pm, six names were shortlisted. This casual approach of the Department of Personnel and Training is highly objectionable," Chowdhury was quoted as saying.
The director's post has been lying vacant since February and Indian Police Service (IPS) officers from four senior-most batches (1984-87) were considered on the basis of seniority, integrity and experience in the investigation of anti-corruption cases for the post.