New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday rejected BJP's demand to keep in abeyance appointment of new CBI Director Ranjit Sinha. Manmohan said the insinuation that appointment was to preempt the procedure recommended by the select committee is wholly unwarranted and devoid of any merit. "I refute the suggestion that appointments to this post in the past by UPA Government were motivated," said Manmohan.
Earlier in the day, leaders of Opposition Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley to the Prime Minister expressing disapproval over the appointment of the new CBI director in the wake of the tabling of the Select Committee's report on Lokpal Bill in the Rajya Sabha that recommends that a collegium comprising the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India appoint the director.
The two senior BJP leaders sought that the appointment of the Bihar cadre Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of 1974 batch as the next CBI Director be kept at abeyance for the time being. They have questioned the government's move to appoint Sinha pointing out that the Select Committee's report on the Lokpal Bill had been tabled in the Rajya Sabha only on Friday.
The PM said the insinuation that appointment was to preempt the procedure recommended by the select committee is unwarranted.
The Select Committee's report on the Lokpal Bill was tabled in Rajya Sabha on Friday amidst much furore in the House over FDI and SC/ST Quota Bill. Amongst others, the Lokpal Bill recommends de-linking the creation of state Lokayuktas from the Lokpal Bill and bringing the Prime Minister's Office under its purview except on matters relating to internal and external security, atomic energy, international relations and public order.
The Congress, however, was quick to react. Party leader Sandeep Dikshit said, "The Select Committee's report is a recommendation. It is not an Act right now. The CBI director is retiring and appointment of a new director is regular process. Appointment cannot wait for a recommendation to be passed in the House. The way the BJP is disrupting the House proceedings, it cannot be said when the report will be passed."
MoS PMO V Narayanasamy flayed the BJP saying that it was not behaving like a responsible Opposition. He said, "Due procedure was followed by the government (in the appointment of the CBI chief). The CVC sat and discussed three names that were finalised. The PM in his wisdom considered Sinha as the senior-most. The PM decided in a fair manner, following a due process. Where is the question on unfairness in this? The BJP is not behaving like a responsible Opposition."
Sources say that until the Lokpal Bill has been passed by Parliament, the government is well within its right to appoint a new CBI director based on the guidelines laid out by the Supreme Court. But this is the first time a new CBI director has been appointed a week before the current chief AP Singh retires.