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Poser to govt on CBI pick

New Delhi, July 14: The Supreme Court today asked the Centre to explain how IPS officer Archana Ramasundram was allowed to join the CBI even before she was relieved by the Tamil Nadu government where she was serving.

“How did she join? Now, a new facet has come. If there is some violation of the statutory principle, we will have to examine it. You (the Centre) must first tell us how she had joined before being relieved by the state,” a bench of Chief Justice R.M. Lodha and Justices C.K Prasad and Rohington F. Nariman told attorney-general Mukul Rohatgi.

The bench was dealing with a PIL filed by a journalist, Vineet Narayan, challenging Archana’s appointment as CBI additional director in alleged violation of rules and bypassing other “eligible persons”.

The court asked Bengal cadre IPS officer R.K. Pachnanda — a former Calcutta police commissioner who was among those allegedly overlooked for the CBI post — to file an amended application for expunging some “adverse remarks” made by the government.

The Centre had made the remarks in Pachnanda’s files and cited these to justify its decision to overlook his candidature and prefer Archana.

Pachnanda had moved an application for being heard in the case. The court, however, told his counsel Meenakshi Arora that it would not hear the officer at this stage. But when Arora persisted, the bench told the counsel to file an amended application for expunging the remarks.

The matter was then adjourned to next week to give the Centre time to file its response.

According to Narayan’s PIL, the Centre had bypassed a selection committee’s recommendation to appoint Pachnanda. The plea alleges that the decision to name Archana instead was in violation of rules as the Appointments Committee of Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister had ignored the selection panel’s proposal.

The court had earlier restrained Archana from functioning as the CBI additional director. In Tamil Nadu, she enjoyed director-general rank and was chairperson of the Tamil Nadu Uniformed Services’ Recruitment Board. She was appointed to the CBI on May 8.

The Jayalalithaa government had suspended her for taking charge at the CBI without being relieved by the state.