SC tells Government ‘‘In-charge appointments’’cannot continue

supreme court front view law insider in
supreme court front view law insider in

Soni Satti

A Bench led by Justice L. Nageswara Rao told Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, “In-charge arrangements for CBI Director cannot continue.”

The remark was made during the hearing of a petition filed by Common Cause, which was represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan, challenging Praveen Sinha’s selection as interim CBI Director following Rishi Kumar Shukla’s retirement on February 2.

According to the petition, the government failed to appoint a regular Director through the Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India, and Leader of the Opposition.

The committee meeting has been postponed until after May 2, according to Mr. Venugopal. Mr. Bhushan suggested that the meeting be held before May 2. He wondered aloud whether the government by deferring the meeting wished to bypass the incumbent Chief Justice of India, who is retiring on April 23,

Mr. Bhushan’s charges were highly contested by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta. Mr. Mehta stated that the meeting had been postponed due to the Assembly elections in April.

The Common Cause contended that an interim appointment by executive order was not contemplated in the 1946 Act’s legislative scheme. The role of CBI Director is a delicate position. In some sensitive inquiries, the Director is the final authority within the organisation.

The petition also cited the Supreme Court’s previous “determined efforts” to “enhance the CBI’s functional autonomy and limit the extent of executive discretion in the matter of this key functionary’s appointment.”

It also prayed the court to order the introduction of a procedure to ensure that the appointment process for the CBI Director is concluded one or two months in advance of the incumbent’s retirement. However, the court has decided to hear both sides’ arguments in depth next week.

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