New Delhi: CBI and the Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB) were today at the centre of a row with the probe agency Director questioning a letter written by the Board chairman to the Cabinet Secretary alleging CBI interference in the selection of top boss for Cements Corporation of India (CCI).
CBI Director Ranjit Sinha expressed astonishment over a letter written PESB Chairman Atul Chaturvedi to Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth alleging interference, saying credible information was only shared with the Board and no pressure was applied to postpone the interview slated for March 27. Media reports said Chaturvedi in his letter complained that a CBI Joint Director had delivered an unsigned note to PSEB member R Giopalan on March 26, a day before the interview.
Chaturvedi is quoted as saying that apart from raising certain issues regarding the short listing of the applicants, the CBI had suggested to the PSEB to review the propriety of the interview being held on March 27 “till the issues are settled”.
He went on to say that, “it may amount to interference of the CBI with an intent to put undue outside pressure on the PESB and its selection process”.
Defending the CBI communication, Sinha said that the agency had received “credible information” about some alleged irregularities taking place in the selection process of CMD for CCI.
“Keeping in mind the paucity of time, a Joint Director was sent along with the complaint to PSEB member R Gopalan as the chairman was on leave,” Sinha said, adding, they were merely asked to take action if they felt the need to do so. The issue in the complaint received by the CBI was about the short listing of candidates in which the PESB added one more candidate days before the interview. The candidate had been on lien or loaned to another PSU and was treated as an outsider. His lien was terminated before the interview which not only made him eligible as an internal candidate but also the senior most within CCI.
“I am astonished at the PESB chairman's complaint to the Cabinet Secretary after more than a month. I don't know why they are making a mountain of a molehill. We deemed it fit to alert them. They still decided to go ahead with the interview and that was their decision,” Sinha said.