New Delhi, April 19 : The Centre on Monday informed the Supreme Court that the Congress leader in Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, would not be available to participate on May 2 meeting of a high-powered committee, including the Prime Minister, for appointment of the CBI Director, and therefore, it will be convened after May 2.
In an affidavit filed in the top court, the Centre said: "The Secretary (DoPT) contacted the leader of the single largest opposition party in the House of the People (Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury). The Secretary (DoPT) was informed by Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury that he would not be available to participate in the meeting till May 2, 2021." Chowdhury is also a member of the committee for the appointment to the post of CBI Director. "In the light of the foregoing, the meeting of the committee under section 4A of the Act (Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946) shall be convened immediately after May 2, 2021," it said.
The affidavit said Praveen Sinha, who has been directed to look after the duties of the Director, CBI, till the appointment of the new Director, is senior-most IPS officer posted in the rank of Additional Director, CBI.
The affidavit said that, as per section 4A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act 1946, appointment to the post of CBI Director is made based on recommendation of a high-powered committee consisting of the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition recognised as such in the Lok Sabha, or where there is no such Leader of Opposition, then the leader of the single largest opposition party in that House, and the Chief Justice of India or a judge of the Supreme Court nominated by him.
On March 12, the Supreme Court had sought reply from the Centre on a plea by NGO Common Cause, represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan, seeking direction to immediately appoint a regular CBI Director. Bhushan has 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.
A bench headed by Justice L.N. Rao has scheduled the matter for further hearing on May 13.
Bhushan had alleged that the Central government is delaying the high-power committee meeting, as it wants to bypass the present Chief Justice, who is also part of the committee, but is scheduled to retire on April 23.
The NGO had contended 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 Lokpal Act, 2013. "The ad hoc appointment of Praveen Sinha as the Interim/Acting CBI Director deserves to be set aside," added the plea.