A controversy has broken out over the appointment of an additional director in the Central Bureau of Investigation after the government and the central vigilance commission locked horns over considering an officer whose track record was under question.
Archana Ramasundaram, a 1980-batch IPS officer from Tamil Nadu, was appointed as the additional director last week by the government after it apparently ignored anti-corruption watchdog CVC's repeated recommendation of a particular officer.
The government also went by the opinion of the Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran in picking Ramasundaram when he opined that the government had "sufficient discretion to reject" if a single name is recommended, government sources said on Monday.
Officials said that the Appointments' Committee of Cabinet had asked for names from the CVC, which decided to send only one name for the post despite receiving a panel of names of three officers from the department of personnel and training.
Besides Ramasundaram, the others named in the panel by the DoPT were Ashok Kumar, a 1982-batch IPS officer from Tamil Nadu and R K Pachnanda, a 1983-batch IPS officer of West Bengal.
The CVC chose a name from out of the three and sent it to the ACC, which had rejected it, saying that there was "dispute" over the officer and that seniority could not be ignored.
The ACC, which is headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, asked the CVC to follow the rules and submit a complete panel before the Committee.
However, the CVC sent the name of the same officer and the government rejected it again. The government summoned the panel from the DoPT and selected Ramasundaram for the post.
Earlier, the Solicitor General had said that since the issue relating to the appointment of a high-ranking officer in the CBI the principles laid by Supreme Court in a judgment in 2011 would be applicable.
"Institutional integrity should be a primary consideration in making such an appointment keeping in mind not only the eligibility criteria but also the fact that the CBI has to perform an important investigative function," he had said in his opinion.
He felt that in the light of the wide discretion vested upon it by law, the central government can choose a name from among a panel of names.
In the event of only a single name being recommended by the selection committee, the government has sufficient discretion to reject such a name for cogent, reasonable, bonafide and non-arbitrary reasons which should be able to stand judicial scrutiny, he said.
Slamming the government, Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Nirmala Sithraman said its decision to ignore the CVC is "in line with the Congress' attempts to dilute the institutions and not to adhere to the checks and balances and taking opaque decisions."
"I am questioning the procedure of appointing the officer. This is the same way PJ Thomas was appointed as the CVC by it earlier," she added.
Activist Vineet Narain said if decisions on these important appointments are taken in such a manner, then "what is the relevance of the CVC." "I have nothing against the officer but the issue is that why the norms were not followed," he said.
Ramasundaram, who has served in the CBI as the deputy inspector general and joint director, was selected keeping in mind her expertise in handling economic offence cases.
The woman officer, who is at present posted as the director general in the Tamil Nadu Uniformed Service Recruitment Board, had investigated Telgi stamp scam case besides other economic offence cases.
After Ramasundaram's return to Tamil Nadu in 2006, she had served in the economic offences wing of the police, administration and later in the CID.
She was promoted to the rank of the director general in November 2012 and posted as the chairperson of Tamil Nadu Uniformed Services' Recruitment Board.
During her tenure in Tamil Nadu CID, she along with her team had compiled a book of important cases investigated by the department for 104 years from 1906 to 2010.