After the second round of meeting of the selection committee, IPS Rishi Kumar Shukla has been appointed the Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). A 1983-batch officer, Shukla is a former DGP of Madhya Pradesh.
On Saturday, the high-level selection committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the appointment of IPS Rishi Kumar Shukla as the new CBI Director for a period of two years from the date of assumption of charge of the office, a statement read.
The appointment committee, comprising of PM Modi, CJI Rajan Gogoi and Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, met twice in the last nine days to select the name from a list of over 70 candidates for the CBI’s top post.
The appointment of Shukla, who was ousted from his post as the DIG in Madhya Pradesh earlier this week by the newly elected Congress government, had sparked a war of words between the government and the opposition.
While the CJI, according to reports, fully endorsed the objective criteria applied for the selection of the director, Congress leader Kharge gave a dissent note on Shukla’s appointment saying Modi government completely ignored the experience in the anti-corruption investigation while selecting the officer for the post.
Kharge, in his two-page dissent note, wrote that all three aspects- seniority, integrity and investigative experience in the investigation of anti-corruption cases should be given equal weight.
“Seniority cannot be the only criterion in appointment to such a critical post and experience in anti-corruption cases and prior experience of having served in the organisation should also be considered,” the note said.
However, his objection was rejected because the committee felt that he was the senior-most officer with the highest grading, sources added.
The 58-year-old officer from Gwalior is at present the chairman of the Madhya Pradesh Police Housing Corporation. Although Shukla has never been part of the CBI, he had served in the Intelligence Bureau where he handled several sensitive cases.
Shukla had played a key role in the extradition of underworld don Abu Salem, who was found guilty in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts which killed over 250 people, and also Salem’s then-girlfriend Monica Bedi in 2005.
The post of the CBI Chief has been lying vacant since January 10, after CBI director Alok Verma was transferred from his post by the high power committee and was appointed as DG or Fire Sevices, Civil Defence & Home Guards. Verma had refused to join the new post and resigned on the next day. There are serious charges of corruption against the former CBI director. He had taken over as the CBI chief on February 1, 2017, for a fixed two-year tenure that ended Thursday.
Among other charges, he was accused of diluting the Look Out Circulars (LOC) against Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya. He was also accused of leaking sensitive documents pertaining to the Nirav Modi case and of fabricating documents to frame Rakesh Asthana, the Special Director CBI who is also on forced leave by the Modi government.
The Union government’s decision to change the top leadership of the CBI came against the backdrop of an ugly feud between the CBI Director Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana over the issue of an alleged bribery case involving Asthana.
M Nageswara Rao has been working as the interim CBI chief after Verma’s ouster.
With Rishi Kumar Shukla taking over the charge of the premier investigation agency of the country, the functioning of CBI should come back to normal after a gap of more than 3 months. After both director Verma and special director Asthana was sent on leave by the union government, M Nageswara Rao was working as the interim director, except for two days after the SC had reinstated Verma on January 8th, only to be removed by the high powered committee on 10th.
Prashant Bhushan’s NGO Common Cause had filed a petition against appointment of Nageswara Rao as interim director. But three judges have already recused themselves from the case. CJI, Ranjan Gogoi, justice A K Sikri and justice N V Ramana have recused themselves from hearing the case citing various reasons after the case came to their courts. As now Rao is no longer the interim director of CBI, the outcome of the petition will probably have no effect on the functioning of the agency.