Today Top Court says that it cannot pass blanket order on appointment of CBI director

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The court was hearing a petition filed by Common Cause, a non-governmental organisation, arguing for the extension of the term of CBI directors until their replacements have not been finalised, instead of appointing interim directors. Common Cause has opposed the appointment of Praveen Sinha as the interim/acting director of the central agency after the retirement of Rishi Kumar Shukla on February 2. It was only in May that Subodh Kumar Jaiswal was appointed the new director of the Central Bureau of Investigation for a two-year tenure. A Bench led by Justice L. Nageswara Rao, comprising Justice BR Gavai asked the Attorney General for India KK Venugopal to respond to the argument made by Advocate Prashant Bhushan for common cause, Bench also asked the Government, represented by Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, that instead of an interim or an ‘Acting’ Director, the premier investigating agency could continue with the incumbent until the high-powered selection committee comprising the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India and the Leader of the Opposition zeroed in on the next regular appointment. The Supreme Court today asked the Central Government to respond whether it can, in “exceptional circumstances”, continue with the outgoing Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Director rather than appointing an “Acting” chief. In view of the appointment of a regular director, the bench asked Bhushan if the petition has not become infructuous. However, Bhushan replied that he was pressing for the other reliefs in the writ petition seeking categorical directions to stop the practice of appointment of Acting Directors for CBI. He stressed that the Supreme Court in the Prakash Singh case has barred the practice of appointment of Acting CBI Directors and Acting DGPs. However, those directions are being repeatedly violated, he submitted. Responding to Bhushan's submissions, Venugopal said that the delay in regular appointment happened as the High Powered Committee, to appoint CBI director, could not meet due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The AG said the committee consists of the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India(or his nominee judge), and the Leader of Opposition. At times, there might be difficulties in the meeting of the committee, and in such exceptional circumstances, ad-hoc appointments are made, the AG said, adding that ad-hoc appointments should be allowed in such exceptional circumstances. Bhushan said that in exceptional circumstances, the existing director has to continue because the existing director is appointed by the HPC, but the acting director is appointed by the government. "Would you accept the Bhushan's submission that the existing director should continue in such exceptional circumstances?", the bench asked Venugopal. The AG then sought time to respond to this submission and the court posted the matter for hearing on October 25.