Govt declines to share details of CBI chief appointment

New Delhi: The Personnel Ministry has refused to share details on the appointment of the CBI chief citing confidentiality clause under the Right to Information Act.

Replying to an RTI appeal, it said the appointment of CBI Director Alok Kumar Verma was done through the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC), which is exempted from the ambit of the transparency law.

Verma, a former Delhi Police Commissioner, was on January 19, named as Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). He is a 1979 batch IPS officer of (AGMUT) union territories cadre.

His name was cleared by a three-member selection panel, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, comprising Chief Justice of India and Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge as members.

Kharge had reportedly recorded his dissent note on Verma’s name, during the meeting of the selection committee held on January 16, on the ground that the officer had never served in the CBI.

The Ministry of Personnel, nodal agency for the CBI, was asked to provide details on the appointment including the file notings “from proposal to fill the vacancy to issuance of order of appointment of Mr Verma”.

It has been observed that note portion contains the information about vigilance status of officers which has been supplied by a third party–Ministry of Home Affairs–and has been treated as confidential by them, the Personnel Ministry said replying to the appeal.

Accordingly, view of third party is being obtained, it said.

The appeal was made after the ministry earlier refused to share this information. The transparency law has provision for appeal in case an applicant is aggrieved over the response by the Central Public Information Officer–first authority to give response to any RTI application.

The ministry said the selection of the Director was made through the ACC which is exempted from disclosure under Section 8(1)(i) of the RTI Act, 2005.

The Section bars disclosure of information related to cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the council of ministers, secretaries and other officers.

However, the section mandates that the decisions of council of ministers, the reasons thereof, and the material on the basis of which the decisions were taken shall be made public after the decision has been taken, and the matter is complete, or over.

The DoPT was also asked to provide names of all officers who were shortlisted for appointment as CBI Director.

All IPS officers of senior most four batches i.E. 1979, 1980, 1981 and 1982 were considered for post of Director, CBI by the selection committee, the reply said.