New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a plea challenging the appointment of Rakesh Asthana as special director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
A bench of Justices R.K. Agrawal and Abhay Manohar Sapre held that Asthana’s holding of the post as special director of the investigative agency did not suffer from any illegality.
The court also refused to question the conclusion of a selection committee on a CBI director letter dated 21 October. The committee had said that there were no findings to indicate that a certain Asthana mentioned in the letter was the same person under consideration. The letter also contains notes on Gujarat-based Sterling Biotech Ltd.
The plea challenging his appointment was brought by Prashant Bhushan-led non-profit Common Cause. He later tweeted that he will file a review.
On 2 December 2016, the home ministry gave Asthana additional charge of CBI director after Anil Sinha retired. Asthana is also the bureau’s additional director.
Asthana was part of the special investigation team (SIT) that probed the 2002 Godhra train burning incident and headed the investigation into the fodder scam that led to the conviction of former Bihar CM Lalu Prasad. He has also assisted in the investigation of the Agusta Westland deal, the cola scam and several money laundering cases.
The Supreme Court had in 1997 said that recommendations for the appointment of a CBI director shall be made by a committee headed by the central vigilance commissioner. The court had said that the search committee will also include the union home secretary and that the views of the incumbent director shall be considered.
Additionally, the 2013 Lokpal and Lokayukta Act mandates that a CBI director shall be appointed on the recommendation of a prime minister-led committee comprising the leader of opposition and the Chief Justice of India or any judge of the Supreme Court nominated by him.