Objecting to the appointment of Rishi Kumar Shukla as CBI Director in a dissent note to the Centre, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge Saturday said the officer had no experience handling anti-corruption cases and alleged that the selection criterion mandated by law had been diluted.
Kharge, who was part of the three-member selection panel headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said that the government replaced the criterion of “experience in investigation in anti-corruption cases” with “experience in investigation and anti-corruption cases”.
In his note, he said that “adding of investigative experience to experience in investigating Anti-Corruption to enhance overall experience has led to inclusion of candidates who either have no experience or at best very little experience in investigation of anti-corruption cases”.
Making it clear that 1983-batch UP cadre officer S Javed Ahmed was more qualified for the post in line with the Supreme Court guidelines and provisions of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, Kharge said Shukla has no experience in investigation of anti-corruption cases, which he felt should be the criterion to select the CBI chief.
Other than Shukla, Kharge said the five-name panel placed before the committee comprised of Ahmed, Director NICFS, R R Bhatnagar, DG CRPF, A P Maheshwari, DG Bureau of Police Research Delhi and Sudeep Lakhtakia, DG NSA (MHA). According to Kharge, Bhatnagar, who topped the government list, has 25 months experience in investigating anti-corruption cases, while Shukla has no experience in anti-corruption investigation.
According to Kharge, the Supreme Court in the Vineet Narain judgement had said that the “Committee shall appoint an IPS officer on the basis of seniority, integrity and experience in the field of anti-corruption.” He said section 4A(3)(a) of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, too, says the Committee should recommend a panel of officers “on the basis of seniority, integrity and experience in the investigation of anti-corruption cases.”
“The committee has decided to shortlist the candidates on the basis of the following criteria – seniority, ACR above a certain cut off (and) total experience in investigation and anti-corruption of 100 months or more,” he said. The last criteria were formulated by the selection panel, even though the DSPE Act states that the recommendation for a panel shall be done “on the basis of seniority, integrity and experience in the investigation of anti-corruption cases”.
By considering “experience in investigation and anti-corruption cases” instead of “experience in investigation of anti-corruption cases”, Shukla qualified with an investigative experience of 117 months. He said that based on the criteria laid down by the DSPE Act and the Supreme Court, Ahmed with an overall experience of 303 months, Bhatnagar with experience of 170 months and Lakhtakia with 155 months “meet the requirements of experience in investigating anti-corruption cases in order of overall merit.”
Kharge argued that this dilution of criterion is “against the letter and spirit of DSPE Act which clearly states investigation of anti-corruption cases”. “Seniority cannot be the only criterion in an appointment to such a critical post, he said, adding, “prior experience of having served in the institution should be given primacy after having shortlisted candidates based on their seniority and their ACR,” he said.
Hitting out at Kharge, Union Minister of State for Personnel, Jitendra Singh said he was “giving his own version” of the panel’s deliberations to the media. “Kharge tried to manipulate the objective criteria, based on independent and impartial assessment, to select CBI Director…He wanted to include some officers of his preference in the short-list of candidates,” Singh told PTI.