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'Regular dissenter': Jaitley's dig at Mallikarjun Kharge over CBI chief's appointment

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New Delhi, Feb 03: Union minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday took a swipe at Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge for excessive dissent and making the appointment of the Central Bureau of Investigation director look like a political battle.

Arun Jaitley

In a blog post titled 'Has Mr Kharge brought down the value of dissent?', the Finance Minister said Kharge's dissent is "coloured by his political views."

"Mallikarjun Kharge dissented once again in the appointment of the new CBI director. Kharge dissents regularly. He dissented when Alok Verma was appointed, dissented when Alok Verma was transferred and has now dissented when R K Shukla has been appointed," Jaitley wrote in a Facebook blog post.

Rishi Kumar Shukla is new CBI chief

"It was felt that since investigation is an independent function, India's primary investigating agency--the CBI--must maintain an arm's-length distance from the government. Hence, the alternative opinion was voiced that the appointment should not be made by the government alone but by a collegium."

Arun Jaitley said the Leader of Opposition must "shed off the political colour" when he sits as a member of the Collegium.

"The position of Kharge as the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, entitles him to sit in the Committee but the political colour of that office has to be left outsideUnfortunately, that does not seem to have happened," Jaitley said in his blog.

"He [Kharge] uses the weapon of dissent excessively and not objectively. Using the instrument of dissent recklessly neutralises its value. The perpetual dissenter in a Collegium meant for appointments sends a message that he was included as a member because of his capacity of Leader of the Opposition but he hasn't been able to shed his role as an Opposition member, even though now he is a part of a government committee. His dissent has diminished its value and credibility," Jaitley wrote.

Mallikarjun Kharge was the lone dissenter in the Prime Minister-headed selectionpanel that removed Alok Verma as the CBI chief. Kharge also expressed reservations over Shukla's appointment to the top post, citing "lack of experience in investigating anti-corruption cases."

In the dissent note, the Congress leader said the three-member committee, chaired by Prime Minister Modi and in which he is a member along with Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, has violated the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (DSPE) that governs the CBI and the Supreme Court judgements.

He said the criterion in selecting the CBI director has been diluted to include investigation experience only and not experience in investigating anti-corruption cases.

The PM-led committee met on Friday to select the CBI chief. Kharge's dissent note suggests that the new chief was not a unanimous choice but was selected on the basis of majority.

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