After Alok Verma’s exit, PM led panel to decide new CBI director

Two days after he was conditionally reinstated by the Supreme Court as the CBI director (CBI), Alok Verma was on January 10 removed from the agency again by the high-powered selection committee and M Nageswara Rao again named interim director

The panel led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi (or his nominee) and leader of the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, as its two other members, will meet on January 24 to finalise the name of the next chief of the Central Bureau of Investigation, people familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity.

After Alok Verma’s contentious ouster from CBI on January 10, the agency has been working under interim director M Nageswara Rao. Rao is an additional director in the agency and has been appointed as the interim director till the government selects a regular director. “The government initially proposed that the meeting be held on January 21, but after consultations between members, finalised January 24 as the date for the meeting to select the new CBI director,” said one of the people cited above, a government official.

The move to hold the meeting of the PM-led panel comes even as the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a petition challenging the appointment of Rao as interim director.

The petitioner, NGO Common Cause, claim Rao’s appointment was not based on the recommendation of the selection panel and, thus, in complete contravention of the law. The petitioners have sought appointment of a regular chief of the agency.

The petitioners also want all records of deliberations and rational criteria related to short-listing and selection of the CBI director to be made available under the transparency law. They have also asked for the entire process of selection, including composition of the panel, its mandate and minutes of the meeting of the search committee to be made public.

The court is yet to fix a date for hearing, but said on Wednesday that it is likely to schedule it for next week.

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