- The rule eliminated from the race at least two government choices
- Officers with less than 6 months left in service should not be considered
- Panel meet at PM residence took place after a nearly four-month delay
At a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last evening to select the new chief of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Chief Justice of India NV Ramana emphasised a rule that eliminated from the race at least two government choices, sources say.
After a 90-minute meeting, the high-powered selection panel of PM Modi, the Chief Justice and opposition leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury zeroed in on three names - former Maharashtra Director General Of Police Subodh Kumar Jaiswal, Director General of Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) KR Chandra and Home Ministry Special Secretary VSK Kaumudi. Subodh Kumar Jaiswal, the senior most, is reportedly the frontrunner.
Sources say during the discussions Chief Justice Ramana raised a "six-month rule", which has never been cited before in the selection of a CBI director.
Justice Ramana referred to a Supreme Court judgement that had said officers with less than six months left in service should not be considered for police chief posts. The selection panel must comply with the law, he said, according to sources.
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, on the panel as the leader of the largest opposition party Congress, backed the rule, giving it majority support in the three-member committee.
This disqualified Rakesh Asthana, the Border Security Force chief retiring on July 31, and National Investigation Agency chief YC Modi, retiring on May 31 - two of the names seen to be at the top of the heap in the government's shortlist.
The panel's meeting at PM Modi's residence took place after a nearly four-month delay.
Mr Chowdhury had no objection to the names but put up a dissent note alleging that the government had followed a "casual approach" in listing candidates. He said he had originally received 109 names, which were pared down to 16 names yesterday before the panel met.
"The way the procedure was followed, it was in conflict of the mandate of the committee. On May 11, I was given 109 names... and today by 1 pm, 10 names were shortlisted while by 4 pm, six names were shortlisted. This casual approach of the department of personnel and training is highly objectionable," the Congress leader said.
Indian Police Service (IPS) officers from four senior-most batches (1984-87) were considered for the post that has been vacant since February.
The law says the committee will select the CBI director "on the basis of seniority, integrity and experience in the investigation of anti-corruption cases" from a list of IPS officers drawn from the four senior-most batches.