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SUCCESSION WAR RAGES ON OVER TOP GOVT SLOTS.

The clock's ticking for NDA govt as key positions lie vacant

THE NEW government is hit by vacancy syndrome. Key positions in the government have been lying vacant for a while, however, suitable replacements have not been found yet. The NDA government has failed to fill the vacancies at the top in its initial few months, and with some more crucial positions falling vacant in the next month or so, there seems to be little movement to put in place a succession plan.

The important positions, which are lying vacant and where the incumbents are to demit office soon, are from the security establishment, transparency and anti- corruption bodies. Even the much- talked Lokpal has not been set up as the modalities are still being worked out despite the Lokpal Act passed during the UPA term.

The Central Information Commission ( CIC), the apex transparency body under the Right to Information Act, has been headless since August 22. The CIC is working with seven information commissioners, even though the sanctioned strength is 10. Initially, the government was reluctant to go ahead with the appointments since there was no Leader of Opposition ( LoP), who is to be part of the panel.

However, the Right to Information Act states that in case the LoP is not recognised, the leader of the single largest SUCCESSION

group in the Opposition can be part of the committee.

Even the Central Vigilance Commission has been headless since September end. The body working with only one vigilance commissioner, former IPS officer Rajiv. The other position of vigilance commissioner is also vacant for more than two months as the Supreme Court is now hearing a petition transparency of appointments the CVC. There is already confusion over succession of CBI Director Ranjit Sinha, who demits office December 2. With no LoP and provision in the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, the government is exploring legalities.

One option is to get the Act amended before December 2.

Sources say since Parliament session begins on November 24, there will be a week's time to get this done. Another possibility could be that current Special Director Anil Sinha is made interim chief and there is also a buzz that Ranjit Sinha could be given an extension.

Top positions in the security establishment were left vacant the UPA government who left job for the new government.

Current Director General of the CRPF Dilip Trivedi will retire on November 30, but there is no succession plan.

The positions of two special director generals are also vacant.

The Indo- Tibetan Border Police is also faced with a peculiar problem.

The government has done away with the post of additional DG in the ITBP. The post was given to the National Disaster Response Force as Mahboob Alam, who was previously serving as the additional DG, was appointed DG, NDRF. Alam also held the charge of DG for sometime as the government did not appoint a full time DG. While Alam has retired, the post of additional DG has still not come back to the ITBP. With current DG Subhash Goswami retiring in December end, if the government does not find a replacement, there would be no second in command in the force to be given charge.

" If the government does not appoint director generals in time to head these forces, additional charge will be given to the chief of another paramilitary force," said a home ministry official.

Even the position of secretary ( security) in the Cabinet Secretariat was not filled after Yashovardhan Azad was appointed information commissioner in the CIC in November 2013.

The important positions, which are lying vacant and where the incumbents are to demit office soon, are from the security establishment, transparency and anti- corruption bodies

THE TOP POSTS The CIC is headless since August after the tenure of Rajiv Mathur came to an end.

The transparency body also has three vacancies for Information Commissioners that have not been filled.

; Central Information Commission ( CIC)

; RESEARCH AND ANALYSIS WING ( R& AW)

Current chief Alok Joshi retires on December 31. Rajinder Khanna and Arvind Saxena are top contenders for the job.

; Intelligence Bureau ( IB)

Current chief Syed Asif Ibrahim demits office on December 31 . In the race for the job are Special Directors in IB -- Dineshwar Sharma, 1979- batch Kerala cadre IPS, and Ashok Prasad, 1979- batch Andhra Pradesh cadre officer.

; CENTRAL RESERVE POLICE FORCE ( CRPF)

CRPF's current Director General Dileep Trivedi will retire on November 30 , but there is no succession plan. Position of two Special Director Generals is also vacant for long in the force.

; CENTRAL VIGILANCE COMMISSION ( CVC)

Former Central Vigilance Commissioner Pradeep Kumar retired in September- end. The position was not filled up and now the Supreme Court is hearing a petition on transparency in appointment of CVC that has forced the government not to make an appointment. The anti- corruption watchdog is working with only one Vigilance Commissioner -- former IPS officer Rajiv. The other position of Vigilance Commi- ssioner is also vacant for more than two months.

; Central Bureau of Investigation ( CBI) Director Ranjit Sinha's term is coming to an end on December 2 . The government is in a fix how to go about the appointment, as there is no Leader of Opposition. LoP is part of a panel that also includes Prime Minister and Chief Justice of India or his nominee for the appointment. One option is that the government goes ahead with only two people and appoint the chief or amend the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act. There is also a possibility of an extension given to Sinha. In the race for the top position are Anil Sinha, Special Director CBI, Prakash Mishra, Special Secretary Internal Security ( MHA) and Sharad Kumar, DG, NIA. Out of two positions for Special Director, one has been vacant for long.

( From top) Sharad Kumar, Prakash Mishra & Anil Sinha

; Indo Tibetan Border Police ( ITBP)

The Director General of the force Subhash Goswami retires in December- end . Again, like the CRPF, no suitable candidate has been selected. The ITBP is also without an Additional Director General, a post that was taken away from the force recently.

CVC ISSUE STILL PENDING IN SC

THE Centre was moving fast to select a new Central Vigilance Commissioner ( CVC) in early September, but the Supreme Court forced it to apply brakes by questioning the very procedure being followed, saying it lacked transparency.

Following it, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi assured the Chief Justice's bench on September 18 that a final decision will not be taken without its nod.

The Centre was in a hurry as CVC Pradip Kumar was to retire on September 28.

Lawyers Ram Jethmalani and Prashant Bhushan had filed a PIL for NGO Centre for Integrity, Governance and Training in Vigilance Administration, alleging that the Centre was rushing ahead without giving wide publicity to the vacancies. They referred to the July 21 letter issued by the Secretary, DoPT, to Secretaries in government to suggest names for empanelment for the post of CVC and VC. The petitioner argued that the government was going ahead with the selection process, giving earlier rules laid down by the SC a complete go- by. " For us also it appears the government is restricting the appointment to one category of people ( civil servants) whereas the statute provides others. Transparency should be the hallmark of such selection procedure..." the SC had said.

Harish V. Nair/ New Delhi

Syed Asif Ibrahim

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Nov 13, 2014
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