The NGO, Common Cause, has approached the Supreme Court for a direction to the government for appointing a regular Director of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) forthwith by following the procedure laid down in Section 4A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, as amended by the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013.
The petition filed by activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan also sought quashing the appointment of Rakesh Asthana as the interim/acting director of the CBI.
The petition seeks the appointment of the Director of the CBI in accordance with the law and in accordance with the landmark judgment of the Supreme Court in Vineet Narain case.
“A proper appointment as per the statutory law is necessary for upholding the rule of law and for enforcement of the rights of the citizens under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India. The Government has failed to appoint a Director of the CBI as per Section 4A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 on the expiry of the term of the last incumbent on 02.12.2016.”
As per the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, as amended by Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, the CBI Director shall be appointed by the Central Government on the recommendations of a committee comprising a) the Prime Minister (Chairperson), b) the Leader of Opposition (Member), and c) the Chief Justice of India or any Judge of Supreme Court nominated by him (Member). The DSPE Act was further amended on 29.11.2014 to include the Leader of the single largest Opposition party in the said committee when there is no recognised Leader of Opposition.
“Shri Anil Sinha’s term as the CBI Director came to an end on 02.12.2016. Thus, it was incumbent on the Central Government to call for a meeting of the selection committee for the appointment of his successor as per the law. This meeting ought to have been called well in advance so as to ensure a smooth transition. However, the government took a series of steps in a completely mala fide, arbitrary and illegal manner to ensure that Mr. Rakesh Asthana was given the charge of CBI Director.”
The petition alleges that the Central 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 Mr. Anil Sinha was going to demit the office of CBI director on 02.12.2016. According to the petitioner, this deliberate dereliction was in complete violation of the DSPE Act, 1946, as amended by the Lokpal Act, 2013.
“The government then prematurely curtailed the tenure of and transferred Mr. R K Dutta, Special Director, CBI, to the Ministry of Home Affairs. This was done on 30.11.2016, i.e. just two days before the incumbent CBI director was slated to demit office. A post of Special Secretary was specially created in the Ministry to accommodate Mr. Dutta by upgrading the post of a Joint Secretary, which is two levels below the Special Secretary, since the Government clearly wanted him out of the CBI. Mr. Dutta was second in command to the CBI Director and would have been a natural choice in case an interim or acting CBI Director was to be appointed.