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SC agrees to hear PIL challenging appointment of new CAG

Last updated on: May 23, 2013 17:21 IST

The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear a PIL challenging appointment of Shashi Kant Sharma as the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

A bench of justices B S Chauhan and Dipak Misra, however, said there is no urgency in taking up the matter during vacation and posted the case for hearing in July.

Sharma was today sworn in as CAG by President Pranab Mukherjee.

Challenging the appointment, advocate M L Sharma, who filed the PIL, said Sharma had in the last 10 years held several sensitive positions in the defence ministry that dealt with significant procurements and appointing him as CAG would mean a conflict of interest.

"He cannot be appointed an auditor to audit his own accounts report, work and performance during his previous tenure. Various multi-billion defence deals, including the Chopper scam, are pending for auditing before the CAG. Therefore, Sharma cannot be appointed as CAG to audit his own deal in any manner," the petition said.

"Government action is mala fide, arbitrary and under concocted scheme to justify their financial manipulation and scheme which are pending before the CAG for auditing. Impugned appointment is liable to be scrutinised by this court in the interest of justice," the petition said.

Shashi Kant Sharma was on Thursday sworn in as CAG by President Pranab Mukherjee in the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The 61-year old 1976 Bihar cadre IAS officer replaced Vinod Rai, who superannuated on Wednesday after a five-and-a-half year eventful tenure as the head of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

"Shashi Kant Sharma will have a tenure up to September 24, 2017," an official statement said.

He was holding the post of defence secretary prior to this new assignment.

Sharma's appointment comes at a time when the CAG has come under sharp attack from the government and ruling party for its reports on assessment of Rs 1.76 lakh crore loss in allocation of 2G spectrum.

Under Rai's tenure, the CAG was accused of going beyond its auditing ambit and indulging in analysing policy decisions.

Rai, however, had hit back saying the government just wanted the CAG to be an accountant.

The new CAG will have to handle the audit report on AgustaWestland chopper deal, among other reports. He was closely associated with the deal from its early days till its completion in 2010.

CAG reports on 2G spectrum and coal block allocations during Rai's tenure had triggered a number of controversies and raised the hackles of the government, besides bringing in the concept of presumptive loss in audit.

Like Vinod Rai, Sharma too has served as secretary in the department of financial services.

Sharma, who holds a Masters degree in Political Science from the University of York, has spent over 10 years in the defence ministry in various capacities.

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