The Weekend Leader - Bill in Lok Sabha to change CBI chief's selection process

Bill in Lok Sabha to change CBI chief's selection process

New Delhi


A bill to amend the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act was introduced in the Lok Sabha Tuesday to include the leader of the single largest opposition party as a member of the selection committee to choose the CBI chief.

The bill was introduced amid din with opposition parties, including the Congress, Trinamool Congress and Samajwadi Party demanding a discussion on black money issue. The parties walked out when a discussion was initiated on the bill.

The bill is important as the current Lok Sabha does not have a recognized leader of opposition. Under the statutory provisions, the post goes to the party that has at least 10 percent of the house's strength as elected members, currently pegged at 55.

The amendment will also do away with the requirement of quorum in the high-powered committee to select the Central Bureau of Investigation chief.

The bill assumes significance as current CBI director Ranjit Sinha's term ends Dec 2.

Once the bill is amended, the search panel will comprise the prime minister, chief justice of India and the leader of the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha.

At present, the leader of opposition was entitled to be in the selection panel.

The enactment of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act (also known as Lokpal Act) earlier this year has automatically amended the DSPE Act to make changes in the selection panel.

Before the Lokpal Act amended the DSPE Act, a committee headed by Central Vigilance Commissioner used to recommend names for CBI director.

Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh introduced the bill in the Lok Sabha.

"This bill was brought by the UPA government and only some minor changes have been made by us. It is not true that it is being bulldozed," Singh said.

On the issue of inclusion of the leader of the largest opposition 'bloc' in the selection panel, he said: "The Congress must not have known that there would not be any leader of opposition."

"So we discussed with everybody and decided that an alternative can be that the leader of the largest opposition party can be accepted as the leader of the opposition," he said.

There is no recognized leader of opposition as the Congress, with 44 seats in the 543-member house emerged as the second largest party after the BJP, but fell short by 11 to stake claim for the post for which a minimum strength of 55 is required.

On the other important provision in the bill doing away with the quorum required, Singh said: "If due to some reason, one member is not present, then in such a situation, since the CBI is an important institution, we cannot leave it in suspension and delay the appointment of its chief."

The government is very eager to get this particular amendment bill passed in the first week itself as there is very little time left for the selection committee to meet and choose a new CBI chief before Dec 2. - IANS

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