Questioning the Centre’s attempt to “superimpose” the choice of Archana Ramasundaram, the Supreme Court on Friday restrained the IPS officer from functioning as additional director of the CBI until further orders.
A bench led by Chief Justice R M Lodha issued the interim restraint order, noting there was a “very strong prima facie case” to stall the central government’s move, since it amounted to nullifying statutory provisions.
The bench censured the Centre for trying to supersede another authority, constituted under the law for such selections, and asked Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran to produce all pertinent files for its scrutiny on July 14.
The court order added another twist to the controversy around the appointment of the first woman additional director of the CBI. Hours after she joined duty, the Tamil Nadu cadre officer was suspended by the state government on Thursday, allegedly for failing to obtain official consent.
Meanwhile, the court, citing relevant provisions of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act and CVC guidelines, underlined there was a committee that had to send its recommendation to the government for appointments to posts above the level of superintendent of police in the CBI.
“It is for the committee to decide and you have to give effect to it. You cannot substitute for its choices. You may legislate but till the time this law is in force, you have to give effect to it. You cannot decide for the committee,” the bench said.
The remarks came as Parasaran sought to find flaws with the selection committee’s decision to recommend only one name (of a different officer) instead of a panel of names for the post. He maintained that despite reminders, the committee had stuck to one name.
“So what? It is a fact that the committee did not recommend her (Ramasundaram’s) name. You have to give effect to what the committee recommends. If the law asks you to do a thing in a particular way, you have to do in that way or not do it all,” the bench retorted.
The court added: “It cannot be permitted to work in this way. A very strong prima facie case is made out for interim orders once you say her name was not recommended by the committee. This is an indirect way of overriding the committee. It amounts to virtually nullifying the statutory scheme.”
The court said that it was open to the committee to recommend only one name, and if the government had issues with it, it could point out to the committee the lacuna in the decision.
Counsel for Ramasundaram requested the court not to pass any orders that may have an impact on her career. The bench said it was only concerned that the appointments must happen continued…