By LE Staff

New Delhi, March 4: A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the government’s decision to appoint an interim director for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) after bypassing the selection procedure provided in the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act.

The NGO — Common Cause — has sought urgent directions from the court to the Centre to initiate and complete the process of the selection of CBI director and to ensure that the process is initiated at least one or two months before the post is to become vacant. The petition, filed on Thursday, is yet to be listed before the court.

The petition, filed through advocate Prashant Bhushan, has challenged the decision taken by the Centre on February 3 to appoint Pravin Sinha as an interim or acting director till the appointment of a new director or until further orders. 

This order was required as the two-year term of CBI director Rishi Kumar Shukla came to an end on February 2. He was appointed by an order issued by the Department of Personnel and Training on February 2, 2019 for a two-year tenure, after the approval of the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet.

“The director of the CBI is the final authority in the organisation. He supervises all the work in the CBI and is responsible for constitution of investigating teams for probing cases. Hence, this court and later even Parliament have made determined efforts to enhance the functional autonomy of the CBI director and limit the extent of executive discretion in the matter of appointment of this key functionary,” the plea said.

Bhushan, who drafted the petition, said Section 4A of the DSPE Act provides for a high-powered committee headed by the Prime Minister and comprising the leader of single largest Opposition Party and the Chief Justice of India (or any judge of the Supreme Court nominated by CJI) to recommend the name of the CBI director. This process was not followed by the Centre as the work on appointment of the new director ought to have begun two months before the previous director retired last month, he said.

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