The Supreme Court will on Wednesday hear a plea challenging the appointment of interim Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Rakesh Asthana, a 1984 Gujarat cadre Indian Police Service (IPS) officer. The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Prashant Bhushan on behalf of Common Cause, an NGO, sought the quashing of Asthana’s appointment in accordance with the Vineet Narain case.
The PIL contends that after Anil Sharma’s term as the CBI director came to end on December 2, it was incumbent upon the government to convene a meeting comprising of the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition and Chief of Justice of India for the appointment of a new director.
“However, the government took a series of steps in a completely mala fide, arbitrary and illegal manner to ensure that Rakesh Asthana was given the charge as CBI Director,” the petition stated.
The petition stated that the Central Government did not convene meeting of the selection committee even though it was fully aware that Sharma was going to demit the office of CBI.
“This deliberate dereliction was in complete violation of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946, as amended by the Lokpal Act, 2013,” it stated.
Asthana had earlier held several important positions in Gujarat Police. He was also part of a Special Investigative Team (SIT) set up by the Gujarat Government to probe the Godhra train burning case.
The petition alleges that the government wanted to appoint its own choice as interim CBI Director “even if it meant bypassing the statutory law, the norms of propriety, and the directions contained in the Vineet Narain’s judgement”.
“The judgment in Vineet Narain’s case had clearly held that the tenure of CBI Director would be two years. This was to ensure that there is no ad-hocism in the appointment and functioning of the CBI Director,” the petition states.
“Therefore, the petitioner submits that the government must be directed to comply with the mandate of the law and call for the meeting of the selection committee as per the DSPE Act, 1946 as amended by Lokpal Act, 2013,” the petition added.