The Supreme Court on Friday told the Union government to keep in mind its directions setting out the criteria for selecting the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Director as it was told that the meeting of the committee to decide on the appointment will be held towards end-December.
The committee for the appointment of the CBI Director comprises the Prime Minister, the Leader of Opposition and the Chief Justice of India.
"When you make regular appointment you will keep these directions (issued by the court in an earlier judgment) in view," said the top court bench of Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice RF Nariman reminding Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi that person to be appointed CBI Director should be of integrity and experience and from the batches of four years commencing with 1979.
"You are aware of the direction (by the top court) and the impact of this direction. When you make regular appointment, you will keep this direction in view," Justice Joseph told Mr Rohatgi.
The top court by its earlier judgment had said that "ordinarily" the government would consider the IPS officers of four batches for selecting one of them to be the CBI Director as Justice Nariman asked "what is extraordinary in (interim director Rakesh) Asthana".
As Attorney General sought a date in the third week of January, counsel Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO Common Cause, said that it should be early and accused the government of seeking long dates in such cases including in the hearing of Lokpal.
At this, Justice Nariman said: "We will see the progress in the matter" otherwise we will hear and decide the issue.
The court order came as Mr Bhushan described the appointment of Mr Asthana as interim Director as "malafide" as in order to accommodate him, RK Dutta, the agency's seniormost official after retiring chief Anil Sinha, was shifted to the Home Ministry to look after work relating to terrorist activities.
Mr Bhushan told the bench that Mr Dutta had 15 years' experience coupled with three years as the head of the Lokpal police under Justice Santosh Hegde when the latter was Lokayukta of Karnataka. As opposed to this, Mr Asthana is associated with the investigation of anti-corruption cases for three years and was three years junior to Dutta.
Contesting the submission by Mr Bhushan, Mr Rohatgi told the court that it was for the government to decide which officer would serve where and in what capacity. He told the court that Mr Dutta has been sent to Home Ministry as Special Secretary to head a cell that is co-ordinating with different intelligence agencies engaged in anti-terror operation.
Besides giving him important responsibility, AG told the court that Mr Dutta's grievance about anomalies in salary too have been addressed to his satisfaction. He said that Mr Bhushan was using Mr Dutta's transfer as a ground but later was not aggrieved or had moved the court.
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