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New CBI Director Rishi Kumar Shukla and the uphill task before him

By Abid Shah
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New CBI Director Rishi Kumar Shukla and the uphill task before him

The new CBI Director Rishi Kumar Shukla has a reputation of being an upright, rule-abiding and, thus, unyielding police officer. He is generally averse to political or any other kind of pressure in his work. He is thought to be publicity shy, media shunning and yet polite and soft spoken, seasoned and low-key top police hand, say those who know him for years.

Yet, Shukla has never before worked in the CBI and, thus, as per his critics, he does not have much experience to probe corruption cases involving big fishes in public or private life. This has been becoming a point of controversy on the very first day of his appointment.

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge who has been part of the three member selection committee, that included Prime Minister and Chief Justice of India, is reported to have given a note of dissent to point out this. A copy of the dissent note reportedly given by him is being reproduced here. Among other things Kharge’s note points to, or rather highlights, experience and work area of Shukla’s five peers:

The new CBI Director Rishi Kumar Shukla and the task before him

Anyway, Shukla has a long experience in handling intelligence related matters by virtue of his working both in the intelligence setups of Madhya Pradesh Police to which he belongs ever since joining the Indian Police Service way back in 1983 and also centrally controlled Intelligence Bureau through his long tenures in both the organisations.

He was Director General of Madhya Pradesh Police until a week ago or so and was replaced by VK Singh after the new Congress Government led by Chief Minister Kamal Nath took over following Assembly elections held in November last year.

After stepping down from the post of DG of the State Police he was moved to look after the Housing Department of MP Police. Around the time of last Assembly polls held in 2018 Shukla had a heart, or bypass, surgery in Mumbai.

His exit from the top role in the State Police was also seen as a part of the effort to lighten the burden on him for sometime though the new Chief Minister was also supposed to revamp the State Police administration by bringing persons of his choice and replace the top echelons in the police force from the times of the last BJP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan.

Yet, his appointment as the CBI chief on February 2 evening by a high powered committee comprising of Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India and Leader of largest, or main, the Opposition party in the Lok Sabha is being seen as a beginning of a tough job for him.

This is more so because of the recent controversy dogging the Central Bureau of Investigation that among other things led to the unceremonious exit of the last CBI Director Alok Verma and large scale transfers of many CBI officers including Verma’s bête noire and Special CBI Director Rakesh Asthana.

The row in the CBI that erupted in full public and media view in October last year and went up to Supreme Court and Delhi High Court in the form of multiple cases calls for a great deal of redemption vis-à-vis the credibility and image of the country’s prime investigating agency.

Who is Rishi Kumar Shukla? Know all about the new CBI Chief

Thus, Shukla faces a formidable task in his new posting where he is expected to formally take over soon from the interim CBI Director M Nageswara Rao who has been officiating in the absence of a regular Director. This has been the case since October last year but for a brief interlude earlier this month when Verma rejoined as the top boss of the CBI for a couple of days or so only.

In the past, Shukla has been a colleague of NSA, or National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister, Ajit Doval, in the IB and both are said to be close to each other. This is likely to ensure the Government support for the new incumbent appointed for the stewardship of the CBI in perhaps most trying times in its history.

Yet, what is important is to allow Shukla to go by his instincts and choices vis-à-vis appointment of important CBI functionaries in his new role. More so since the task before him is to redeem the badly bruised, if not totally lost, the image of the CBI at a time when the Supreme Court had shown displeasure in the delay in appointment of CBI Director to replace Rao.

Like Verma who came from the Delhi and other Union Territories cadre of IPS officers to the CBI without any prior experience in the federal investigating agency Shukla too is absolutely new to the CBI and it remains to be seen how he fares in his new posting. His two-year tenure in the CBI will be in any case watched keenly.

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