Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan on Monday filed a PIL against the “mala fide non-appointment” of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Director and “giving additional charge to Rakesh Asthana”.
In his PIL, as reported by ANI, Bhushan contended that after Anil Sinha’s term as the CBI director came to end on 2 December, the central government ought to have convened a meeting comprising Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition and Chief of Justice of India for the appointment of the Director.
Bhushan’s petition added, “However, the government took a series of steps in a completely mala fide, arbitrary and illegal manner to ensure that Rakesh Asthana was given the charge of the CBI Director.”
Calling the central government not convening the meeting ‘deliberate dereliction,’ Bhushan’s petition stated, “This deliberate dereliction was in complete violation of the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946, as amended by the Lokpal Act, 2013.”
Asthana, a Gujarat cadre IPS officer, had been given several key positions during his time in the state with Modi as the chief minister.
He was also part of a Special Investigative Team (SIT) set up by the Gujarat government to probe the Godhra train burning case.
According to the petition, the appointment of Asthana was because the government wanted to appoint its own choice as interim CBI Director “even if it meant bypassing the statutory law, the norms of propriety, and the directions contained in the Vineet Narain’s judgement”.
“The judgment in Vineet Narain’s case had clearly held that the tenure of CBI Director would be two years. This was to ensure that there is no ad-hocism in the appointment and functioning of the CBI Director,” the petition states.
“Therefore, the petitioner submits 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 petition added.