SC seeks Centre’s reply on plea demanding regular appointment of CBI director

The Supreme Court on Friday sought a reply from the Centre on a plea by an NGO seeking direction to immediately appoint a regular CBI Director.

After a brief hearing in the matter, a bench comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhat issued notice on the plea and scheduled the matter for further hearing after two weeks.

The petition, filed by NGO Common Cause, contended that a proper appointment as per the statutory law is necessary for upholding the rule of law and for enforcement of the rights of the citizens under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.

The NGO argued that the CBI Director is the final authority in the organisation. “Hence, this Hon’ble Court and later on 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,” said the plea filed through advocate Prashant Bhushan.

The petitioner submitted that the government must be directed to comply with the mandate of the law and call for the meeting of the selection committee as per the DSPE Act, 1946 as amended by the Lokpal Act, 2013. “The ad hoc appointment of Praveen Sinha as the Interim/Acting CBI Director deserves to be set aside,” added the plea.

The NGO argued that the government has failed to appoint a regular CBI Director as per section 4A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, on the expiry of term of Rishi Kumar Shukla on February 2 and instead appointed Praveen Sinha as an interim Director.

The plea argued that the top court has time and again entrusted important cases of corruption and violation of human rights to the CBI for investigation. The CBI has, sometimes under the monitoring of the top court, investigated important cases involving powerful and influential individuals.

The plea urged the top court to issue direction to the Centre to initiate and complete the process of selection of the CBI Director well in advance, at least one to two months before the date on which the vacancy in the post of CBI Director is about to occur in future.