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CBI remains out of home purview

New Delhi, Jan. 30: The Central Bureau of Investigation remains with the Cabinet Secretariat, which reports to the Prime Minister’s Office, after yesterday’s Cabinet shuffle.

The reassigning of portfolios continued today with the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) being shifted to Jaswant Singh’s finance ministry after his meeting with the Prime Minister this evening.

The FIPB has thus been separated from the commerce and industry ministry that is now Arun Jaitley’s portfolio along with law. The department of company affairs with the law ministry was earlier shifted to finance.

The home ministry has extended its turf and the department of personnel has now been attached to it. Home ministry officials said this is as it should be because the department of personnel was originally a part of home affairs.

Indira Gandhi had brought the home ministry under the PMO to be able to monitor appointments and postings of senior IAS officers. The personnel and training department has remained with the PMO since then.

This, however, did not mean that deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, also home minister, was kept in the dark about the movement of senior IAS cadre across the country.

As members of the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, the postings of joint secretaries and officers of a higher rank had to be approved by both the Prime Minister and the home minister.

“Advani always had a say in the appointments of senior bureaucrats, and DOPT (department of personnel and training) coming under the home ministry will make very little difference. It’s only those who do not know how the government operates who thought he did not have any say in senior non-IPS appointments,” an official said.

Speculation has been rife about the tussle between the PMO and the home ministry over the department of personnel and the CBI since Advani took over as the deputy Prime Minister.

The CBI is investigating the 1992 demolition of the Babri Masjid, in which Advani is one of the accused. If the CBI were to come under Advani, it would trigger a political furore.

The issue of the home ministry controlling the CBI had come up in Parliament time and again. Lawmakers vociferously protested against any such move, saying it would go against the principles of natural justice.

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