Mystery deepens over the appointment of the new director of the Central Bureau of Investigation as facts of the case reveal that the Narendra Modi government may have to go an extra mile if it wants to appoint acting CBI director Rakesh Asthana as the full-time director of the premier investigation agency. In a surprise move, the Modi government had made 1984 batch IPS officer of Gujarat cadre Rakesh Asthana as the acting director of the probe agency following the superannuation of Anil Kumar Sinha on December 2 triggering a political storm.
Asthana's appointment as the interim chief was unexpected. The government had suddenly moved the second-in-command in the CBI, R.K.Dutta to the ministry of home affairs as special secretary, two days prior to Sinha's superannuation, apparently to pave way for Asthana's appointment.
However, now all eyes are set on the empanelment of the 1984 batch IPS officers. The keen interest in the 84' batch of IPS officers being able to hold the post of the director general emanates from the fact that Asthana belongs to this batch. There has been speculation in the power corridors that the Modi government wants Asthana, who is known to be close to the prime minister, as the CBI director, something that is not possible without him being empaneled to the director general rank.
MHA insiders say that the empanelment of these officers is unlikely to happen anytime before March. Sources indicate that though there are three vacancies emerging in the DG rank in February, and they would want to fast-track the process of 84 batch's empanelment , the process may still spill over into March.
The three vacancies that are coming up in February are that of the director, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy, special secretary (internal security) in MHA and also the DG, CRPF.
Will the government fast-track the empanelment or wait till March or will all speculations be put to rest with the selection committee, comprising the prime minister, the leader of opposition and the chief justice of India meeting soon to take a call on the appointment for the DCBI? This remains to be seen.
In December, the Centre had told the Supreme Court, which was hearing a plea filed regarding Asthana's appointment, that the curtailment of service of senior IPS officer R.K.Dutta at the CBI was as per the law governing the probe agency. It had also informed the court that the process to select a regular CBI director was on and the selection committee might meet the same month. The plea, which was filed by NGO, Common Cause, had alleged that the Centre took a series of steps in a "completely malafide, arbitrary and illegal manner to ensure that Asthana was given the charge of CBI director".