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Selection of new CBI director mired in controversy

November 11, 2012 18:12 IST

The government is yet to identify a successor to Central Bureau of Investigation Director A P Singh, who will retire this month end on November 30.

However, sources say that a letter war has broken out in the Indian Police Service fraternity suspecting foul play in the selection process. The government is likely to ask the Central Vigilance Commission to go in for a second list of priorities and submission of a fresh panel.

The government is said to have received three letters from IPS officers accusing an officer in the CVC panel of wrongdoing.

If sources are to be believed, this particular officer has been working hard to ensure that Ranjit Sinha -- the present director-general of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police -- be made his successor.

As per the procedure for selection of a new CBI director, a panel of three has been prepared by the selection committee. Apart from Ranjit Sinha, the other two on the panel are Atul Gupta, director general, UP, and Sharad Sinha, director, National Investigation Agency.

The CBI has been in the news ever since the Anna Hazare agitation broke out in 2011.

The Opposition accused the UPA 2 government of using the CBI as a political weapon to get a majority in Parliament and win votes for the survival of the government.

In addition, the CBI director selection process is also being discussed at the Joint Select Committee of Parliament on Lokpal. The Opposition is planning to attack the UPA2 on the floor of the Parliament on November 26, with a special motion on the selection process of CBI director and allegation letters written by IPS officers to the Cabinet secretary.

Never before has such public lobbying for the post of the CBI director been seen. As a result, a war has broken out. Allegations have been levelled against Sinha and a demand has been made that the panel be scrapped. Interestingly, the letter writer belongs to Haryana and the message is that Sharad Sinha, an IPS officer of the Haryana cadre, engineered it.

But sources in the Union home ministry, where this letter reached, are wondering why S C Sinha would demand scrapping of the panel when he already is in it.

The infighting in the IPS fraternity has intensified ever since Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar and V K Gupta, special director in the CBI were eliminated from the panel.  Chief Vigilance Commissioner Pradeep Kumar has been heading the selection panel comprising of Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth, retiring director A P Singh and others. The selection committee is now in a fix as questions have been raised over its selection.

It is learnt that an internal inquiry has been ordered into the allegations. On the other hand, the government has sounded Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushma Swaraj to find out if she would be willing to accommodate A P Singh as member of the National Human Rights Commission.

In the past, BJP's man Friday P C Sharma was permitted by Sonia Gandhi to join the NHRC when she was in the Opposition, and gave him another extension in the NHRC at the recommendations of BJP leader L K Advani. Congress now wants the favour to be returned. One will have to wait and see if Sushma Swaraj agrees to it.

A Correspondent in New Delhi