Govt set to amend DSPE Act to overcome hurdle to appointment of next CBI chief

Times of India, November 14, 2014

The government will table a bill in the first week of Parliament’s winter session to amend the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act that will provide for the leader of the largest party in opposition in Lok Sabha to be a part of a three-member committee to appoint the CBI director.

Law secretary P K Malhotra confirmed that the government was bringing an amendment to the DSPE Act.

Earlier, the government was considering to amend the Lokpal Act that had provision for appointment of the CBI director by a three-member committee comprising of the Prime Minister, the leader of the opposition (LoP) and the chief justice of India (CJI) or a senior Supreme Court judge nominated by the CJI.

Incumbent CBI chief Ranjit Sinha retires on December 2 and there was no decision taken in the last Cabinet meeting on the issue after the law ministry told the government that it would not be possible to appoint the next CBI chief unless an amendment was made in the Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act.

Sources said the government is not keen on giving an extension to Sinha till his successor is appointed. However, in case the ratification of both the Houses of Parliament takes time and till the amendment is notified, the government may give the officiating charge of the CBI chief to the senior-most official in the anti-graft agency.

The law ministry and the department of personnel and training (DoPT), the administrative ministry which controls the CBI, has finalized the bill to amend the DSPE Act providing to replace the LoP with the leader of the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha.

The Narendra Modi government has denied the Congress with 44 MPs the LoP position despite being the largest party in the Lok Sabha as it requires a minimum strength of 55 MPs for it to qualify for the LoP position. Currently, there is no recognised LoP in LS.

But with the proposed amendments, Congress leader in the lower House Mallikarjun Kharge will be part of the three-member panel that will appoint the next CBI director. The PM had earlier nominated Kharge on the panel to appoint the chief information commissioner (CIC). The CIC panel consists of the PM, Kharge and finance minister Arun Jaitley, the latter as PM’s nominee.

The government is likely to carry out similar amendments in the selection panel that would appoint the Lokpal, bringing it in uniformity with the Central Vigilance Commission Act that already has a clarification that in absence of a recognized LoP, the leader of the largest party in the lower House of Parliament would be the member of the selection panel for appointment of the chief vigilance commissioner.

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