PM Modi-led panel likely to appoint new CBI Director today

New Delhi: Attorney General KK Venugopal on Friday told the Supreme Court that Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led high powered Committee for Appointment meeting is likely to take place today to select a new Director for the CBI.

The three-member committee, with the leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi as the other members, had last met on January 24. Names of 80 IPS officers were discussed by the committee on that day, although it remained inconclusive on a successor for former Director Alok Verma.

The court also set a new date to hear the petition challenging interim Director Nageshwar Rao’s appointment. The two-judge bench, headed by Justice Arun Mishra and comprising Justice Naveen Sinha, said the matter will be heard on February 6.

Senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO Common Cause, said today that the Centre has to take permission from the high-powered committee for the appointment of an interim director, which he claimed was not

Bhushan also pleaded that the appointment process should be transparent.

To this, Justice Mishra said that CJI Gogoi had, in his 10-page order, stated about how the transparency was established.

Verma was removed as the CBI Director on January 8 following months of conflict with Special Director Rakesh Asthana and was reinstated the following day on the orders of the Supreme Court. However, the committee voted 2:1 and removed Verma from the post on January 11 and appointed M Nageshwar Rao as his interim replacement.

On January 31, Justice NV Ramana had recused himself from hearing the case against the appointment of Rao as the interim CBI chief, becoming the third judge who has recused from hearing the case after Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice AK Sikri.

The petitioners in the case claim that the lack of transparency in Rao’s appointment allows the government to exercise “undue influence in the appointment process” especially at the stage of short-listing of candidates.