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Gujarat-cadre IPS Praveen Sinha, who probed coal scam cases, named interim CBI chief

An order issued by the Department of Personnel and Training stated that the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet had approved Sinha to “look after duties of Director CBI ...till the appointment of a new Director or until further orders”.

Written by Deeptiman Tiwary | New Delhi |
Updated: February 4, 2021 1:58:16 am
CBI director, IPS Praveen SinhaSources said the government is likely to appoint a regular director soon. However, it will happen only after the ongoing Budget session of the Parliament is over. (File)

With the government failing to appoint a new CBI director on the retirement of incumbent RK Shukla, Praveen Sinha, a Gujarat cadre IPS officer from the 1988 batch, was appointed the interim chief of the agency on Wednesday. Sinha is currently the CBI’s additional director and is the seniormost among three of his rank in the agency.

Before joining the CBI in 2018, Sinha was an additional secretary in the Central Vigilance Commission. He served under multiple designations when he was posted in Gujarat. He supervised investigations into the coal scam cases and is currently leading the probe into the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput.

An order issued by the Department of Personnel and Training stated that the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet had approved Sinha to “look after duties of Director CBI …till the appointment of a new Director or until further orders”.

Sources said the government is likely to appoint a regular director soon. However, it will happen only after the ongoing Budget session of the Parliament is over. Sources said the government has already prepared a list of officers—from batches of 1984, 1985, 1986 and 1987—for consideration by the panel headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Sources attributed the delay in appointment of a regular director to the ongoing farmers’ protests in Delhi and the political upheaval it has unleashed both in and outside the Parliament. “The government has been too busy managing the current crisis to adequately address all administrative issues. However, work is in progress and the new CBI director will be appointed soon,” an official said.

Among those in the race for the top post in the agency, according to sources, are Gujarat-cadre IPS officer from the 1984 batch and current chief of the Border Security Force and Narcotics Control Bureau Rakesh Asthana, Meghalaya-cadre officer from the 1984 batch and current NIA director YC Modi, Maharashtra-cadre officer from the 1985 batch and current CISF chief Subodh Kumar Jaiswal, Kerala-cadre officer from the 1985 batch and current state DGP Loknath Behera, Haryana-cadre officer from the 1984 batch SS Deswal and UP-cadre IPS officer from the 1985 batch and current state DGP HC Awasthi.

Before the appointment of MP cadre IPS officer from the 1983 batch Rishi Kumar Shukla as director on February 2, 2019, the CBI had functioned for over three months under an interim chief. In the wake of then CBI director Alok Verma being sent on forced leave, additional director M Nageswara Rao was handed charge as interim chief.

While the move to appoint an interim director on Wednesday was prompted by an exceptional circumstance, there have been past instances of additional directors filling in till a new chief was appointed. In December, 2005, West Bengal-cadre IPS officer JK Dutt was appointed interim director of the CBI. An additional director at the time, he officiated as the chief for three days before UP-cadre IPS officer Vijay Shankar was appointed regular director of the agency.

Dutt went on to become the chief of the National Security Guard (NSG) and led the force’s reponse to the 26/11 siege of the Taj Palace Hotel and Nariman House in Mumbai.

As directed by the Supreme Court, the CBI director is chosen by a selection panel headed by the PM, with the Chief Justice of India and Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha as members. Officers to be considered for the post are shortlisted by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Department of Personnel and Training from four senior-most batches of the IPS.

The outgoing CBI director’s tenure stood out for keeping the agency free of controversy and factionalism.

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