The Central Bureau of Investigation’s additional director Rakesh Asthana will take over as the agency’s interim chief following the retirement of its head Anil Kumar Sinha on Friday, as the government failed to appoint someone full-time. Asthana is a Gujarat-cadre officer who got promoted to the agency’s second-in-command post two days ago.
The new CBI chief is believed to have close ties with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah, the Economic Times reported. During his stint in Modi’s home state, Ashtana had supervised the primary investigation into the Godhra train case in his capacity as inspector general (Vadodara range). He also served as the police commissioner of Vadodara and Surat.
This is reportedly the first time in ten years that the government has failed to name an appointee to the agency. An order issued by the Department of Personnel and Training said, “The competent authority has approved the assignment of additional charge of the post of Central Bureau of Investigation director to CBI Additional Director Rakesh Asthana with immediate effect and until further orders,” PTI reported.
Asthana’s promotion followed the transfer of Special Director RK Dutta, a contender for the CBI’s chief post, to the Home Ministry as special secretary. The post of special secretary is a new addition to the ministry.
The investigating agency’s chief is appointed by a collegium comprising the prime minister, leader of Opposition or the largest party in Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India.
Sinha’s tenure was marked by the Sheena Bora murder investigation and the Vijay Mallya case loan default case.