Former CBDT chief K V Chowdary and information commissioner Vijai Sharma were on Monday appointed central vigilance commissioner (CVC) and chief information commissioner (CIC), two key posts that were lying vacant for over nine months on which the government came under attack.
T M Bhasin, chairman and managing director of Indian Bank, has also been appointed as vigilance commissioner while Sudhir Bhargava, former social justice and empowerment secretary, has been named as information commissioner.
Their appointments were approved on Monday by President Pranab Mukherjee, a Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson said, a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge recommended their names.
With Chowdary's appointment, the government has for the first time broken away with the tradition of appointing an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer as the chief of the anti-corruption watchdog since it was formed in 1964.
The appointments have come after opposition leaders including Congress President Sonia Gandhi had attacked the government over keeping these posts vacant and raised questions whether it was afraid of transparency.
Chowdary, a former Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer, is working as an Adviser in Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) to check black money. He retired as chairman of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) in October, last year.
When reports appeared that Chowdary's name was cleared, senior lawyers Ram Jethmalani and Prashnat Bhushan criticised the government and questioned his credentials for the job.
In the Central Information Commission, the government has followed the convention of appointing the senior most Information Commissioners as the CIC.
Sharma, a former environment secretary, has been working as information commissioner in the Central Information Commission since 2012. He will have a tenure of about six months as he attains the age of 65 years on December 1, this year.
Both Chowdary and Bhasin have been appointed for a term of four years from the date on which they enter their office or till they attain the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. Whereas, Bhargava will have a tenure of more than four years, an official release said.