A controversy erupted over the appointment of Ranjit Sinha as the new CBI director with BJP today demanding that the Prime Minister keep it on hold, citing a recommnedation by a Rajya Sabha panel on Lokpal that the selection be made by a collegium.
The government, however, said the selection of the 1974-batch IPS officer has been done in a "fair manner" following the "due process" and that the Prime Minister has got the authority to decide on one name, hours after BJP voiced its "strong disappointment" and "disapproval".
Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, leaders of the opposition in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha respectively, in a joint letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the decision should be kept in abeyance till the collegium system becomes a law as recommended by Rajya Sabha Select Committee on Lokpal. The Committee submitted its report today.
"This is a matter on record that hours before this recommendation (of the Select Committee) was tabled on the floor of the Rajya Sabha, the Government has chosen to appoint a CBI Director for a period of two years... We must record our strong disappointment and disapproval of this act of the government," the letter said.
The appointment of Sinha, who will succeed AP Singh on November 30, was made yesterday. He is currently Director General of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).
The BJP said the manner in which the government has made this appointment ahead of the tabling of this recommendation in Rajya Sabha, leads one to conclude that the government wanted to pre-empt the possibility of this recommendation at least in the case of Sinha's appointment.
"We would request you to revisit this matter and keep this appointment in abeyance till such time this recommendation becomes a law of the land. Hopefully this can happen in the next few days," Swaraj and Jaitley said.
Speaking on the sidelines of a CBI function, Minister of state for Personnel V Narayanasamy said Sinha was the senior most officer among the three names suggested by the Central Vigilance Commissioner and Prime Minister decided his name.
Union telecom minister Kapil Sibal said, "The government decision-making cannot stop just because there is some legislation awaited...I do not see any logic in this."
"The Prime Minister in his wisdom considered Ranjit Sinha being senior 1974 batch officer and he is the seniormost among the officers.
...the Prime Minister decided the name of Ranjit Sinha in a fair manner following the due process which has been CVC has recommended three names in that Prime Minister has got authority to decide one name. Where is the question of unfairness in this," Narayanasamy said.
"May be they have proposed a new mechanism. That's not part of the law today. There is no Act in Parliament today. There is no notification of an act today. The law as it exists, the government must function in accordance with that law. And, that's how we move forward," he added.
Narayanasamy said CVC has to sit and finalise the names which discussed and then finalised three names-- Ranjit Sinha, Sharad Sinha and Atul.
"Three names have been finalised. Ultimately the Prime Minister is the authority to decide...As far as BJP is concerned, they are not behaving as a responsible opposition in this country and they are not allowing the house to function? They want either my way or no way. It is not possible in democracy," he said.
The Select Committee on Lokpal states, "The director of the CBI will be appointed by a collegium comprising Prime Minister, leader of opposition in Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India." The recommendation was made unanimously by the panel.
Echoing Narayanaswamy's comments, Sibal said, "The government decision-making cannot stop just because there is some legislation awaited.
This means, the logic would be any standing committee report which has to be translated into a legislation, such time the translation takes, there should be no decision of the government. I do not see any logic in any of this."