Fresh PIL in SC challenges CAG appointment

Another PIL was filed on Monday in the Supreme Court challenging the appointment of Shashi Kant Sharma as the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) by describing his selection process as “arbitrary, non-transparent and unconstitutional.”

Sharma, who succeeded Vinod Rai, was a Bihar-cadre IAS officer. His term ends on September 24, 2017.

The petition filed by a group of eminent personalities, including former CEC N Gopalaswami and two former Navy chiefs R H Thaliani and L Ramdas, sought directions for framing a transparent selection procedure based on a definite criteria.

It urged the apex court to set aside Sharma’s appointment because several controversial deals likely to come under the scanner materialised during his tenure as defence secretary. Sharma, as director-general (acquisitions) and as the defence secretary, was involved in several deals including the controversial procurement of 12 VVIP choppers worth Rs 3,500-crore for the Air Force from Italy.

Besides, it contented that his tenure saw eruption of scams relating to Tatra trucks and five offset contracts worth Rs 3,410 crore that were not “in consonance with the provisions laid down in the defence procurement procedure.”

The petition filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan contended that Sharma’s
appointment was liable to be “declared non est or void as it is made arbitrarily by a procedure that does not withstand the test of constitutionality, also on the ground of conflict of interest, and ‘Nemo judex in causa sua’, i.e. no person shall be a judge in his own cause.”

Although the Constitution does not prescribe any method for the appointment of the CAG, it is obvious that the selection process has to be constitutional, non-arbitrary and in a manner that enables the selection of the best person for the office, it said.
“Since the office of the CAG acts as watchdog over the government, the process of appointment cannot be at the sole discretion of the executive and has to be non-partisan.

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