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Centre brings Bill to change process of picking CBI chief

Under the new Bill, the exercise of selection of CBI chief will not be affected even in the absence of any of the three members of the selection committee for choosing head of the premier investigating agency.

The proposed amendment to the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act states that any vacancy or absence in the panel will not render the appointment of the CBI director invalid. Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh introduced the Bill amid din over the black money issue.

As per the DSPE (Amendment) Bill, 2014, Section 4 (A) of the Act will be amended to include the leader of the single largest opposition party in the selection panel that selects the CBI director when there is no recognised Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Lok Sabha.

‘No appointment of a director shall be invalid merely by reason of any vacancy or absence of a member in the committee,’ the Bill said. Under the existing provisions, the CBI chief has to be appointed by the central government on the basis of recommendation of the selection committee headed by the Prime Minister, and comprising the LoP and the Chief Justice of India or a Supreme Court judge nominated by him, as members.

Before the Lokpal Act amended the DSPE Act, a committee headed by Central Vigilance Commissioner used to recommend names for CBI director. The amendments in the DSPE Act are being brought in by the government as there is no recognised LoP in the Lok Sabha. The Congress with 44 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha has emerged as the second largest party after BJP’s 280 but fell short by 11 to stake claim for the LoP’s post for which it requires a minimum strength of 55.

‘Keeping in view the legislative practice followed in this regard, it is proposed to provide that no appointment shall be invalid merely by reason of any vacancy or absence of a member in the Committee,’ reads the statement of objects and reasons of the Bill. The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has, meanwhile, started the process for appointment of new chief of the investigating agency as incumbent CBI Director Ranjit Sinha’s tenure is ending on 2 December.
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