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Modi-led panel meets today to decide new CBI chief

A three-member committee, comprising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Justice of India H L Dattu and the Congress party’s head in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, is to meet on Tuesday evening to select a new director for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Several names are doing the rounds on who would succeed Ranjit Sinha, who retires from service the same day. Here’s a brief look at four of these.

One of the four names is K S Balasubramanian, currently the police chief in Kerala. He is from the 1978 batch of the Indian Police Service (IPS).

He has served as Superintendent of Police (SP) in several parts of Kerala, beside having served as commissioner of police at Thiruvananthapuram.

Another name is of Prakash Mishra, a 1977-batch IPS from Odisha.

He was appointed special secretary at the internal security department of the ministry of home affairs by the Narendra Modi government in July. He has served as Odisha’s police chief for quite a while. Other postings have included the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and National Disaster Response Force. Earlier this year, his name had been recommended for a special director in the CBI.

Then there is Sharad Kumar, director-general of the NIA since July last year. He is from the 1979-IPS batch of the Haryana cadre and been in the CBI for many years as an SP and DIG. He was also DG (prisons) in Haryana.

Another name doing the rounds is of Anil Sinha, a Bihar-cadre officer, currently special director in CBI and the seniormost after outgoing chief Ranjit Sinha. The 1979-batch officer was earlier additional secretary at the Central Vigilance Commission.  

As special director in CBI, he looks after special crimes, economic offences and special task force in the agency.

BOWING OUT, BUT NOT IN STYLE
Ranjit Sinha’s tenure as director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) started shakily, with the Opposition crying foul at the appointment process. But  the agency’s actions have claimed some big scalps, such as then railway minister Pawan Bansal. But things turned ugly for Sinha towards the end of his tenure, with the entry register at his home office being leaked. He was also caught napping during a speech by the PM, to add to the embarrassment. Business Standard looks back at his stormy term in office:
KEY EVENTS

  • Dec 3, 2012 Ranjit Sinha takes charge as CBI director
  • March 2013 CBI files FIR in the VVIP chopper scam case
  • April 2013  SC fumes as draft status report in the coal blocks allocation scam probe was shared with the then law minister and PMO officials
  • May 2013 CBI arrests then railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal’s nephew Vijay Singla after he was caught accepting a bribe
  • June 2013 CBI registers case against industrialist Naveen Jindal for alleged irregularities in coal block allocation; names former minister of state for coal Dasari Narayana Rao
  • Oct 2013 CBI registers case against Aditya Birla Group Chairman K M Birla and former coal secretary P C Parakh for alleged irregularities in coal blocks’ allocation to  Hindalco; a trial court, with CBI prosecuting, sentences RJD leader Lalu Prasad to five-year imprisonment in the fodder scam; CBI registers case against former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran for allegedly installing over 300 high-speed telephone lines at his residence that were extended to his brother’s television channel
  • Dec 2013 SC breather for CBI: No central government approval required to prosecute senior civil servants in cases being monitored by the court, the court says
  • Aug 2014: CBI files closure report against Birla & Parakh, in a coal block allocation case
  • Sinha’s last day in office: December 2

CONTROVERSIAL CASES
2G spectrum allocation
The Supreme Court removed Sinha from the probe after the court noted there was prima facie credible evidence that he had attempted to help a few accused persons in the scam; this had emerged from the leaked visitors’ diary at the director’s residence
Coal blocks’ allocation
The Supreme Court had questioned the autonomy of CBI after Sinha told the court he had shown the interim status report of the coal scam probe to then law minister Ashwani Kumar and other officials. CBI had got the tag “caged parrot” as the court observed that the heart of the report had been fiddled with
Birla case
A court questioned the agency for closing the case within a year of filing an FIR. CBI later submitted a revised closure report. The court came down heavily on CBI asking it why former prime minister Manmohan Singh, who held the coal portfolio then, wasn’t questioned. The case involved industrialist K M Birla and former coal secretary P C Parakh
Saradha scam
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had accussed the Centre of political vendetta after the CBI arrested top Trinamool Congress politicians Srinjoy Bose and Kunal Ghosh in the Saradha chit fund case
Syndicate Bank case
Syndicate Bank ex-chairman S K Jain was granted bail by a CBI court after the agency failed to file a chargesheet within 60 days of his arrest, according to rules

Sources: CBI, news reports, court cases

“The heart of the (coal block allocation probe status) report was changed on the suggestions of the government officials. It is a caged parrot speaking in its master’s voice…. It’s a sordid saga that there are many masters and one parrot. The job of CBI is not to interact with government officials but to interrogate to find the truth. You must know how to stand up against all pulls and pressures by government and its officials”  

– Supreme Court on May 8, 2013

“The CBI is a political tool used by the previous government to settle political scores. Now the BJP is doing an action replay. They cannot combat the Trinamool politically. They have tried and failed. So what do they do? Let loose a discredited CBI”

– Derek O’ Brien, Trinamool Congress functionary, on Twitter in November 2014

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