The Congress today criticised the BJP-led centre for naming Sanjay Kothari, currently serving as the President’s secretary, as the Chief Vigilance Commissioner and demanded that the selection process be launched afresh.
A six-member high-powered committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had selected Sanjay Kothari as the Chief Vigilance Commissioner and former IAS officer Bimal Julka as the Chief Information Commissioner at a meeting on Tuesday.
Leader of the Opposition, the Congress’s Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, was the only member to lodge his dissent as their names were passed through a majority decision.
“When this was raised in Lok Sabha, we are informed that the PM agreed that process is vitiated. What does the government do, PM pulls a name from his pocket and appoints Shri Sanjay Kothari as the next CVC. A man who is neither an applicant nor in the shortlist,” the opposition party said in a tweet.
Addressing the media later, Congress leader Manish Tiwari condemned the manner in which Sanjay Kothari’s name had been announced as the head of the anti-corruption watchdog when he was not even shortlisted by the search committee.
“What happened on Tuesday vitiated the process of appointing the CVC and the Vigilance Commissioner as the procedure and proprietary were thrown to the wind,” he said, adding that his party will not hesitate to initiate legal action if Sanjay Kothari’s name was notified by the government.
“The Narendra Modi government wants to destroy the Central Vigilance Commission like all other institutions,” Manish Tiwari said.
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who did not support the selection, said: “The papers provided by the Prime Minister’s Office for selecting the CVC disclose glaring and fatal infirmities with the search committee”.
The entire point of forming the search committee had been defeated through the “unilateral” decision, he said.
The Congress leader also claimed that the search committee’s recommendations for the Chief Information Commissioner had not been placed before the high-powered selection panel. “The selection of CIC has been reduced to an empty paper formality,” he added.
The search committee consisted of the cabinet, finance and department of personnel and training secretaries.
Finance Secretary Rajiv Kumar had applied for the post and the search committee — of which he was a part — had shortlisted his name and forwarded it to the high-powered selection committee. This was one of the reasons for the Congress calling the process “vitiated”.
The Central Vigilance Commission exercises superintendence over the CBI with regard to anti-corruption remit. Sharad Kumar has been functioning as interim Central Vigilance Commissioner since last June, when KV Chowdhary completed his tenure in the position.