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Centre to start shortlisting names of contenders for next CBI chief

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The Centre will begin shortlisting the names of contenders for the post of the next CBI director with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) firming up a list of senior IPS officers from the 1984-86 batches for the post.

BSF DG Rakesh Asthana and NIA chief YC Modi, both 1984 batch IPS officers, are said to be the front runners for the post. Another Gujarat cadre IPS officer, Keshav Kumar, presently serving as Gujarat ACB chief, may make it to the final list, officials added.

The current CBI director Rishi Kumar Shukla’s tenure will end on February 2 before which the DoPT, MHA and CVC will hold consultations over the names of the officers. While the MHA is the cadre controlling authority of IPS officers, CVC is involved in vigilance clearances after which the DoPT ranks them on “seniority, integrity and experience in the investigation of anti-corruption cases”.

The final selection for the CBI director is done by a three-member panel headed by the Prime Minister (PM), Chief Justice of India (CJI) and the Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Lok Sabha. Once appointed, a CBI director gets a fixed term of two years unless the government extends the service. If the present CBI director is given an extension of six months, both Kumar and Modi may lose out, as they are to retire in April and May respectively.

NIA DG Modi was part of the Supreme Court-appointed special investigation team that probed the 2002 Gujarat riots. The SIT had given the then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi a clean chit in the Gulbarg Society massacre. Modi had earlier served as additional director in the CBI since 2015 and took charge as DG NIA in 2017. Kumar has earlier served in the CBI and was heading the forensics unit of the agency.

Asthana’s tenure as Director General of the Border Security Force (BSF) and Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) is till July 31, 2021. He had earlier served as special director in the CBI and has handled several high-profile cases, including the Vijay Mallya extradition, AgustaWestland chopper scam among others. Asthana was moved out of CBI in 2019 following his spat with former CBI director Alok Verma.

Among other names in the reckoning are Kerala DGP Loknath Behera, UP DGP Hitesh Chand Awasthy, both 1985 batch IPS officers who have earlier served in the CBI. According to the Supreme Court guidelines, officers having anti-corruption or CBI experience and from the senior-most batches shall be considered for the post. The home ministry spokesperson did not respond when asked for a comment.

CRPF DG AP Maheshwari, DG SSB, SS Deswal and Special Secretary (internal security) VKS Kaumudi are also said to be in the race. The final panel of officers is likely to comprise three names.

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