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BJP fires CBI salvo at govt

New Delhi, Nov. 23: The BJP today demanded that the selection as the next CBI director be “kept in abeyance”, alleging the PMO cleared Ranjit Sinha’s name last evening to “pre-empt” a recommendation by a House panel on Lokpal today that a “collegium” make the appointment.

Manmohan Singh rejected the demand, saying the premier investigative agency could not be kept without a boss till the enactment of the Lokpal. He described the “insinuation” about pre-empting the panel’s suggestions as being “wholly unwarranted and devoid of any merit”.

The director should be appointed by “a collegium comprising the Prime Minister, leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India”, according to the report of the select committee on the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011. The report was tabled in the Rajya Sabha this morning. Under current rules, the final decision rests with the Prime Minister alone.

“This is a matter on record that hours before this recommendation was tabled on the floor of the Rajya Sabha, the government has chosen to appoint a new CBI director for a period of two years,” said a BJP statement.

The panel’s report was tabled in the Upper House amid disruptions by BSP members demanding reservation in promotions for SC and ST employees.

The BJP said the manner in which Sinha — an IPS officer who now heads the ITBP — was picked had led the Opposition to conclude that the government wanted to “pre-empt the possibility of the recommendation at least in the present appointment”.

The Prime Minister’s rebuttal came in a letter to BJP leader Arun Jaitley in which he asserted that “the question of keeping the new appointment in abeyance does not arise”.

Jaitley, leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, and party colleague Sushma Swaraj, his Lok Sabha counterpart, had written to Singh against the selection.

“I also refute the suggestion that the appointments to this post in the past by the UPA government were motivated by collateral considerations. Under the circumstances the government has, in public interest, made the appointment in accordance with the provisions of the CVC Act as presently applicable and the extant procedures which had been set in motion much earlier,” Singh wrote.

Minister of personnel and training V. Narayansamy echoed the view, saying the process was well-defined and the senior-most officer on the shortlist was selected.

National Investigating Agency chief S.C Sinha and another IPS officer, Atul Kumar, were the other two candidates on the shortlist drawn up by the CVC. Delhi police commissioner Neeraj Kumar had moved the Central Administrative Tribunal after his name did not feature on the shortlist. But he withdrew the plea today. He gave no reasons.