Shashi Kant Sharma, former defence secretary, has had his appointment as the new Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, challenged in the Supreme Court on the same day he was sworn in.
Advocate ML Sharma, whose PIL led to a CBI probe in to coal block allocation, on 23 May filed a petition seeking the quashing of Shashi Kant Sharma’s appointment as CAG on the grounds that it is “arbitrary and malafide.” The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the petition in July.
Advocate Sharma was also behind the petition challenging the Centre’s decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retail. The petition was dismissed by the Supreme Court earlier this month. It was, however, his recent stint as lawyer for two of the accused in the Delhi gang-rape case that has brought him a lot of attention from the media.
This latest PIL by ML Sharma will be heard by the Supreme Court when it reopens after vacation in July. It has been listed for hearing on 1 July.
Shashi Kant Sharma, a 1976-batch Bihar cadre IAS officer succeeds Vinod Rai as India’s CAG. Rai is credited with raising the profile of the office of the CAG. His tenure from 2008 to 2013 saw the tabling of the audit reports on 2g spectrum and coal block allocation that blew the lid on corruption at the highest levels of the UPA government.
The BJP has already red flagged the appointment of Shashi Kant Sharma calling it a ‘conflict of interest.’
The main controversy over Shashi Kant Sharma’s appointment as CAG is his association as Defence Secretary with the AgustaWestland chopper deal, which is now under CBI investigation for alleged payment kickbacks. The audit report of the controversial chopper deal will now be tabled under the new CAG