The announcements by the Government of the appoinments of Ranjit Sinha, Asif Ibrahim and Alok Joshi — all officers of the IPS — as Directors respectively of the CBI, the IB and the RAW have followed close on the heels of one another. This in itself aroused some interest since it is but rarely that the chiefs of the three organisations get appointed at about the same time.
But it excited additional interest following the Government’s choice of a Muslim for the first time after Independence as the IB Director and the BJP’s criticism of the Government’s decision to appoint Sinha as the CBI Director.
Muslims have been second to none in dedication, devotion to duty and patriotism as public servants, members, some in high echelons, of the Defence forces and in various walks of life.
The religion of the appointee should never intrude into the selection, provided the officer has the needed competence, experience and expertise. From all accounts, Ibrahim satisfies these criteria and there the matter should rest.
The BJP’s objection to Sinha’s appointment as CBI Director was not on the ground of any lack of qualifications, but that it should have been kept on hold pending decision on the recommendation of the Rajya Sabha Select Committee to entrust the selection to a collegium. This is patently unreasonable as it would have meant an important organisation being acephalous for months.
That apart, the Government had made the choice from a panel prepared by the CVC, as per the procedure laid down by the Supreme Court. For the BJP to make an unseemly controversy out of it does not show it in good light.
The abiding preoccupation of the public with such ephemeral sideshows has blotted out of the discussion a question that has a vital bearing on the independence and the performance of all the three organisations. And that is: Whether their No.1 slot should be the exclusive preserve of officers drawn solely from the IPS.
Remember: In the manner in which all three of them discharge their wide-ranging and all-encompassing functions of ensuring national security and detecting and investigating crimes, they are expected to rise above political or other extraneous pulls and pressures, and opportunist expedients.
Their hallmarks should be: Uncompromising impartiality, unalloyed personal, intellectual and professional integrity, total freedom from any ideological and partisan considerations and firm resistance to allurements and intimidations of any kind, domestic and foreign. Maintaining such a fierce degree of independence and professionalism is absolutely imperative if the three bodies are to be trusted to keep themselves within the paramount parameters of parliamentary democracy as enjoined by the Constitution, the rule of law and the fundamental rights of citizens.
‘BEST PERSON FOR THE JOB’
The heads of the organisations, therefore, should be well-rounded, ‘broad-band’ personalities of extensive reading which endows them with sharp and shining mental faculties.
They should further have kept themselves in a state of constant renewal and upgradation by being abreast of the variegated developments in the fields of knowledge, technology, finance and social forces.
In addition, the head of CBI should have a grasp of the overall business environment in all its ramifications and the RAW chief should be able to comprehend the significance of issues and happenings round the world and the subtleties and complexities of international relations.
It is on this basis that in 1978, a committee headed by L. P. Singh, a legendary civil servant, with D. P. Kohli, the father of the CBI, M. M. L. Hooja, an internationally hailed IB chief of the 1970s and myself, as members, strongly urged the Government to adopt the criterion of choosing for the three organisations of “the best person for the job from wherever found” rather than confining it to police officers.
This is the practice that is followed in Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany and the US, as they have found this to be an essential means of raising the content and quality of the output in line with their exacting security and intelligence requirements.
India will greatly benefit by following suit at least for future appointments.
This should not be taken as a reflection on the services rendered by the three agencies in the past, but purely as a way of adding to their range, reach and depth.