Ahead of a selection meeting for inducting officers into the CBI, its Director, Alok Verma, had protested bringing officers who had not been vetted by the agency. In his letter to the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) on May 18, Verma questioned the selection process, driven by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), which comes directly under the Prime Minister’s Office. Verma’s protest against the selection process came after he resisted two previous such attempts: on October 21 last year and January 17 this year. Moreover, in the selection meeting in May, one of the names proposed for the post of Joint Director was already under the CBI scanner.
The tone and tenor of Verma’s letter betray his frustration with the process: “The agenda for the CBI selection committee is given to CBI barely one evening before the actual meeting, which leaves no time for due diligence by CBI on the candidates proposed to be considered.” Under the CVC Act, the Supreme Court ruling in the Vineet Narain case and long-standing convention, the induction into CBI of an officer above the rank of SP has to be selected by a CVC selection committee based on the recommendation from the CBI after due diligence. These processes were put in place to safeguard the autonomy and independence of CBI which often investigates sensitive cases concerning political opponents of the ruling party.
But the selection process for induction of officers into the CBI seems to have ignored these norms in the past four years. As Verma noted in his letter, “The names mentioned for various ranks are often those which either CBI has not considered/ recommended to DoPT or the due verification is not complete. CBI is a premier investigating agency and embedded in vigilance matters, hence due/fresh verification and diligence needs to be done before the officers are considered for induction.”