A three-member committee led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday met in New Delhi to decide the name of the next CBI director. The high-profile post at India's premier investigation agency has been lying vacant ever since Alok Verma, a 1979-batch AGMUT-cadre IPS officer was shunted out on the charges of corruption and dereliction of duty. The meeting took place at PM Modi's official residence at 7 Lok Kalyan Marg and marked attendance of Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi and leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge.
However, there was no immediate word on the outcome of the meeting. Sources said the panel is likely to reconvene later in the month and will take a final call on the appointment of the new CBI chief. During Thursday's meeting, the panel has sought a detail list of appointment and retirement dates of all the existing officers and is likely to name the next CBI chief on the basis of seniority.
Delhi: Select Committee's meeting at 7 Lok Kalyan Marg for the appointment of new CBI Director concludes pic.twitter.com/hntnfEhTLJ— ANI (@ANI) January 24, 2019
The high-profile committee had on January 10 removed Verma, who was engaged in a bitter fight with Gujarat-cadre IPS officer Rakesh Asthana over corruption charges. Both Verma and Asthana have accused each other of impropriety.
Post that, Verma was named as the Director General of Fire Services, Civil Defence and Home Guards, which he refused to take charge of and quit his service. His two-year-long tenure was scheduled to end on January 31. As of now, the Centre has appointed M Nageswara Rao as the interim CBI chief.
Verma's resignation letter led to a political slugfest with the opposition parties, mainly the Congress, accusing the central government of alleged interference in public institutions.
Kharge had also dashed a letter to the prime minister terming Rao's appointment as CBI's interim chief "illegal". He had asked the government to immediately convene the meeting of the panel to decide on the new CBI chief.
Meanwhile, in a dramatic turn of event, Justice AK Sikri, the second senior-most judge in the Supreme Court has recused himself from hearing the plea challenging the Centre's decision to appoint M Nageswara Rao as interim CBI director.
Justice Sikri, who had represented CJI Gogoi on the high-powered committee on January 10, did not give any specific reason for withdrawing from hearing the case. "You understand my position. I can't hear this matter," Justice Sikri said.
Earlier, CJI Gogoi also withdrew himself from hearing the plea, saying he would be a part of the selection committee to choose the probe agency's new chief.