When Prime Minister Narendra Modi led selection committee met with leader of the Congress Party Mallikarjun Kharge and Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar to appoint the next director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), many in the probe agency expected the meeting to be eventful.
While it is likely that Delhi Police Commissioner Alok Kumar Verma will be appointment as the next CBI chief, the much expected resistance by Congress to the idea over his appointment seems to have been subdued.
Speculations over who the next CBI director would be had intensified soon after after a Public-Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in the Supreme Court seeking quashing of government’s decision of appointing Rakesh Asthana, a Gujarat cadre IPS officer believed to be close to the dispensation, as the interim director.
The selection committee was to appoint the director from a list of over 40 probables and mong them was Delhi Police Commissioner Alok Kumar Verma. It is believed that the 1979 batch IPS was the top choice of the BJP government all along, something which was expected to not go down smoothly with the main opposition party leadership.
However sources say the path to the top post of CBI might have just been cleared for Verma as the main “point of contention” between the opposition and PM Modi withered out.
According to officials sources, the main issue Congress Party cited against the appointment of Verma was the fact that he had never served in the probe agency.The other probables to the post, who had managed to work their way to be the front runners, have in the past been deputed at the probe agency making decreasing Verma’s prospects a few notches.
Sources privy to the meeting said that Verma’s lack of experience in CBI had become the main issue in the meeting as well but his experience in serving in the vigilance department was cited as one of the main perimeters for his appointment as CBI director. While Verma will be remembered by the Delhi for promotion of over 25000 officials, his tenure was marred by several controversies including the arrests of Aam Aadmi Party MLA’s and police failure to trace Najeeb,a JNU student allegedly assaulted by ABVP. After taking the charge as the CP in March 2016, Verma kept an extremely low profile and hardly interacted with the press.
Interestingly a senior CBI official speaking to DNA said that the meeting of the selection committee went smoothly indicating that there wasn’t much resistance to the idea of Verma as the CBI boss.
This, according to official sources, might be owing to the fact that opposition party was not keen on Asthana continuing as the interim director of the CBI. The last time such a deadlock happened was over the appointment of of the top post in the Enforcement Directorate. As a result Rajan S Katoch held the additional charge of ED From August 2014-15 following which Karnal Singh was made the interim chief. His appointment came to full force only in October 2016.
However while pressuring the selection committee to meet might have prevented Asthana to keep continuing as the interim director, it remains to be seen how Verma will be as the new boss of the probe agency which has in the past caught between warring political groups and accused of working at the behest of centre.
From Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, CBI faced a lot of flak in 2015-16. It is also imperative to mention the number of cases currently under investigation by CBI have a lot of big names attached to it be it the Augustawestland scam that took place in the UPA regime or allegations faced by many political leaders such as BSP supremo Mayawati.