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Archana Ramasundram not to function as CBI officer: SC


New Delhi, May 9 :

The Supreme Court Friday asked IPS officer Archana Ramasundram not to function as CBI additional director as prima facie her appointment was in breach of the selection process under the law.

The apex court bench of Chief Justice R.M. Lodha, Justice A.K. Patnaik, Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan and Justice S.S. Nijjar said that having considered the “provisions in Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act with regard to the appointment of the officers above the level of superintendent of police, we find the petitioner (senior journalist and anti-corruption activist Vineet Narain) has been able to make out a strong prima facie case.”

Archana Ramasundaram
Archana Ramasundaram

The court said it is an accepted position that Ramasundram has not been recommended by the selection committee. “In the circumstance, we restrain the respondent (Ramasundram) from functioning as additional director until the next date of hearing.”

The court directed July 14 as the next date of hearing as Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran said he would produce the entire record on the appointment of Ramasundram as additional director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to satisfy the court.

The court order restraining Ramasundram from functioning as the CBI officer came after the court was told she has already joined her new posting May 8, 2014.

At the outset of the hearing, senior counsel K.K. Venugopal told the court that Ramasundram has been placed under suspension as she was not relieved by the Tamil Nadu government before taking up her new posting.

On a query by the court whether Ramasundram was placed under suspension before she joined as additional director CBI or after it, the court was told that she had taken charge May 8, 2014.

The court appeared to agree with Venugopal’s submission that under the DSPE Act, the selection committee was mandated to send a panel of names for the consideration of the government for investigating agency’s director only, but beyond that the selection committee could even suggest just one name for the appointment of senior officers above the rank of superintendent of police.

The selection committee comprises the chief vigilance commissioner, two other vigilance commissioners, secretaries of home, and department of personnel and training, and the CBI director.

Chief Justice Lodha asked Parasaran: “Is it a fact that the selection committee has recommended just one name? Is it a fact that the name of the officer appointed was not recommended by the committee?”

The court said the government has to accept the scheme of the law and the officer recommended by the selection committee has to be appointed. Parliament has not given the authority to the government to overrule the recommendations made by the committee under law.

“This is an indirect way of imposing your person, over-riding the recommendations of the selection committee,” the court said. It was considered application of mind by the lawmakers that they have provided for a panel of names for the selection of director and not for other positions.