How a Senior IPS Officer Could Have Been CBI's First Woman Director

Rina Mitra qualified on all four counts to head the CBI, but an easily avoidable delay of one day in the selection process ensured her exit from the race.

New Delhi: Whether by design or bad timing, it was the selection committee’s decision to defer the meeting for selecting the CBI’s new director to just a day after the senior-most IPS officer Rina Mitra’s retirement that resulted in her exit from the race.

Mitra, a 1983-batch IPS officer from the Madhya Pradesh cadre, retired from the Indian police after 35 years of service. The first woman IPS officer from Bengal, she was, until her retirement, the senior-most IPS officer who was completely eligible for the post of CBI director.

Mitra disclosed the trials and tribulations of her personal and professional life – as a woman and a police officer – in an article in the Telegraph. In it, she says that her profession required every shred of courage to stand up for what she believed in at the risk of personal damage.

As a young girl, Mitra’s family did not possess the funds to send her to school like her brothers, and was made to stay back in the coal mines with her father. One of her brothers eventually fought for her to be educated.

Despite overcoming myriad challenges as a woman, a wife and a police officer, Mitra – close to her retirement – faced her biggest one yet: scaling the seemingly insurmountable ‘glass ceiling’ in place at the country’s premier investigative body.

Also read: New CBI Director Has No Experience of Handling Corruption Cases: Mallikarjun Kharge

Mitra held key positions within the government dealing with internal security, which were hitherto held only by male officers, and continued to rise up the echelons until she qualified on all parameters to be selected as the director of the CBI.

Notwithstanding the fact that she was the senior-most officer and fulfilled all the essential criteria as per the rules and convention of appointment, including experience in the CBI and anti-corruption work, Mitra’s candidacy was ultimately discounted over an easily avoidable delay of just one day in the selection process.

She retired the day before the meeting was finally convened, thereby, technically disqualifying her from consideration.

Mitra says her story is not meant to dishearten anyone, but rather to inspire them to maintain the integrity of values and beliefs through their actions.

In her article, Mitra exhorts young and aspiring servicemen and women to remain upright, non-partisan and duty-bound. By doing so, she says, the universe of temptations fades away and, even though one might be less powerful and more anonymous, it will earn them others’ respect.

In closing , she says that this may be the last glass ceiling she faces, but urges others who will encounter similar hurdles in life to persevere and push the envelope – to “stay strong, fight for a fairer world” and not lose heart.