A high-powered committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has selected President Ram Nath Kovind’s Secretary Sanjay Kothari as the next chief vigilance commissioner, media reports said on Wednesday. The committee also chose former Information and Broadcasting Secretary Bimal Julka as the new chief information commissioner, PTI reported. Julka is an information commissioner at present.
Former Andhra Bank Managing Director Suresh Patel was selected to be vigilance commissioner, while former Punjab Civil Services Commission member Amita Pandove will be an information commissioner, The Hindu reported.
The meeting chaired by Modi was attended by Home Minister Amit Shah, Congress Leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, and Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Jitender Singh. The decision, however, was not unanimous as Chowdhury pointed out “certain legal infirmities” in the process. After the Congress leader pointed out that the government did not share the names of short-listed candidates for the post of chief information commissioner before the meeting, and objected to the presence of a short-listed candidate in the search committee for the next chief vigilance commissioner. The prime minister then reportedly directed officials to follow the established norms, and provide the Opposition leader with the names of short-listed candidates before such meetings.
“It is regrettable that the entire process of appointment to the high offices of the CVC and the CIC was deeply flawed and violative of the constitutional guarantees, and was undertaken in a non-transparent manner,” The Hindu quoted Chowdhury as saying. “These fundamental flaws have vitiated the entire exercise. Sad that the government is using the flawed procedure to appoint persons to these high offices. Such arbitrary decisions will defeat the very objective of holding the government and the Executive accountable to the people of India.”