As a panel to select next chief of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) meets today, all eyes are on two woman contenders for the top post.
The list of 45 eligible IPS officers sent to the Prime Minister's Office for consideration as next CBI director is said to include the names of Archana Ramasundaram and Aruna Bahuguna.
The selection committee, which comprises of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Justice of India JS Khehar and leader of second largest party, in this case Congress Lok Sabha MP Mallikarjun Kharge, meets today over a month after a PIL was filed in the Supreme Court challenging the appointment of acting CBI director, RK Asthana.
Asthana took over as the interim CBI chief in December, when Anil Sinha retired on December 2.
An officer of 1984-batch, Asthana was elevated as the Additional Director in the agency on when CBI Special Director RK Dutta, who was reportedly among the frontrunners for the top post, was shifted to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) as a Special Secretary.
According to a report by a TV channel, Ramasundaram, a Tamil Nadu cadre officer of the Indian Police Service or IPS, could be a compromise candidate after Asthana’s controversial appointment.
Currently the chief of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), Ramasundaram, 59, is among the frontrunners for the top job, along with another woman officer Aruna Bahuguna.
Bahuguna, a 1979 batch IPS officer of Telangana cadre, is currently is the Director of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy, Hyderabad.
Names of IPS officers Krishna Choudhary and S C Mathur are also doing the rounds as strong contenders. RK Datta, whose transfer out of the CBI, is also on the list of probable which also has the name of current Delhi Police Chief Alok Verma.
In a petition filed before the SC, lawyer Parshant Bhushan had alleged that Dutta was moved out of the CBI just two days before Sinha retired and the government had to appoint a new director.
The government argued that Dutta was too senior and deserved a special pay grade and so was being given charge of a financial terrorism unit in the Home Ministry.
The petition alleged that Asthana's appointment as acting CBI chief violated guidelines as it made strong case for Dutta saying he had the longest experience in anti-corruption units.