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Govt scanner on CBI officers

New Delhi, Nov. 28: The CBI’s relationship with sections of the government has hit a new high — the height of mistrust.

While the home ministry has been running a check on IPS officers on deputation to central organisations, including the CBI, the premier agency had a run-in with the ministry and the central vigilance commissioner on the appointment of senior officers.

“We do run checks when reports come to us like the one some years ago that an officer in the ministry was signing documents in return for favours,” a senior ministry official said, confirming the exercise and not ruling out that the CBI was among government wings that were under the scanner.

While dossiers on some officers were requested from their home cadre states, it is not known if telephones had been tapped.

For the CBI — likened to a “caged parrot” by the Supreme Court earlier this year — it is another example of how its relationship with the government, especially the home ministry, has deteriorated since it named a senior Intelligence Bureau officer in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case.

At a recent conference, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and later finance minister P. Chidambaram had cautioned the agency against interfering with policy decisions. Their comments came against the backdrop of an FIR against industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla and former coal secretary P.C. Parakh over a coal block allocation to Hindalco.

The differences came to a head recently when CBI director Ranjit Sinha is said to have contested the appointment of a Bengal cadre officer a day after suggesting his name to fill a vacancy in the CBI.

R.K. Pachnanda, a former commissioner of Calcutta police, had been shortlisted by a five-member panel along with another officer for two posts of additional directors.

The panel of central vigilance commissioner (CVC) Pradeep Kumar, Union home secretary Anil Goswami, department of personnel and training (DoPT) secretary S.K. Sarkar and vigilance commissioners J.M. Garg and R. Sri Kumar had shortlisted the two officers after the CBI had forwarded five names earlier this month.

However, the CBI director, an invitee to the committee, contested all the suggestions amid allegations that he was trying to block the posts for officers of his own choice.

At a meeting on November 13, the home ministry insisted that the five officers had an impeccable record. The five-member committee shortlisted the names of Ramasundaram and Pachnanda and, last week, finalised his name.

But the “game”, officials said, “is not over yet” as the appointments committee of the cabinet (ACC) is yet to finalise Pachnanda’s appointment.

For all operational matters, the CBI is answerable to the CVC although administratively it falls under the DoPT.