veryone in India knows that the country is run on a simple principle: Show me the man, and I’ll show you the rule. In fact, rules change depending on how influential or otherwise the person likely to be affected by the rules is. The recent appointment of Karnataka IPS officer Praveen Sood as the new Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has revived talk about this adage. Some keen observers have pointed out that while senior Haryana IAS officer and whistle-blower Ashok Khemka was not considered for Central deputation because he did not have any experience of serving at the Centre, the Personnel Ministry did not apply this condition in Sood’s case. He, too, apparently has no experience of having served on Central deputation and has not been empanelled, yet he has been named the CBI chief.
Interestingly, there’s another interesting trend in the appointment of CBI chiefs. Some observers have noted that the BJP has on two similar occasions, brought in state police chiefs from states in which it lost elections to the Centre as CBI chiefs! They cite the example of IPS Rishi Shukla from Madhya Pradesh and Subodh Jaiswal from Maharashtra. So, Sood’s appointment is not an anomaly since there is clearly a precedent. A similar logic was also given when Gen BS Rawat was made Chief of the Army Staff over two senior generals since they did not have combat experience. Not surprisingly, the bureaucratic rulebook seems like a mythical creature, forever elusive and ever-changing, and can only be deciphered by a chosen few!
Controversy over ex-chief secretary’s appointment
The recent appointment of ex-chief secretary Somesh Kumar as the chief advisor to Telangana’s Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has sparked a controversy and raised concerns among babu and political circles. Having taken voluntary retirement in February, the 1989 batch IAS officer from Andhra Pradesh has been given a three-year term in the rank of a cabinet minister. This has led many to question the potential overshadowing of senior serving babus due to his reported close proximity to the Chief Minister and his penchant to be in the spotlight. Sources have informed DKB that the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) already comprises a substantial number of retired officers from the IAS, IPS and other all India services.
According to the CMO’s official website, there are a dozen advisors to the CM, of which eight are former bureaucrats. It is widely believed that these advisors, during their tenure in service, impressed the Chief Minister with their work. Now with the appointment of Somesh Kumar as the chief advisor, political and babu observers remain watchful, waiting to see how Kumar’s addition to the CMO will impact the functioning of the government and the roles of senior officials.
Ravneet Kaur takes the helm at CCI
The appointment of Ravneet Kaur as the new chairperson of the Competition Commission of India (CCI) for a period of five years comes at a crucial juncture. Amidst months of delay and speculation, Kaur’s selection brings hope for the much-needed revitalisation of the regulatory body. This move by the Centre, occurring ten months before her retirement, is a significant step towards ensuring fair competition in India’s evolving business landscape. Kaur’s extensive experience as a senior Punjab IAS officer, coupled with her notable track record, positions her as a promising leader for the CCI. With the regulatory mandate of the CCI being intensified through recent amendments to the law, the addition of manpower and infrastructure becomes imperative. Interestingly, this is the third senior appointment the Centre has announced after the Karnataka election results. Earlier, the government had cleared the appointment of Praveen Sood as CBI Director and IRS officer Suman Sharma as UPSC member.
The top post at the CCI fell vacant after Ashok Kumar Gupta demitted the chairman’s office on 25 October 2022, having completed his four-year term. Later the government gave member Sangeeta Verma the charge of acting chairperson and also invited applications for three more members. CCI has to have a chairperson and not less than two and not more than six other members, as per the Competition Act. Kaur has held several positions in the government over the last two decades, including as chairperson of the India Tourism Development Corp between 2017 and 2019. With her extensive experience in the government and a proven track record, Kaur’s leadership is expected to revitalise the functioning of CCI and reinforce its role in ensuring fair competition, considering that the panel is currently investigating some of the world’s biggest companies including Apple, Amazon and Walmart’s Flipkart for alleged anti-competitive practices.
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