At PM-led meet to select new CIC and CVC, Congress raises objection
Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury raised objection over procedure adopted in the selection of the next Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) and the Central Information Commissioner (CIC) at a high-powered meeting on Tuesday, a person familiar with the development said.
The selection committee, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in its meeting is said to have finalised the names of Sanjay Kothari, a former secretary to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) and now secretary to the President of India, as the CVC and Bimal Julka, a former information and broadcasting secretary and at present an information Commissioner, as the CIC.
Chowdhury did not object to the names and did not have any formal dissent note but objected to the procedural formalities, the person cited above said.
At the meeting, also attended by Home Minister Amit Shah, Chowdhury objected to the way the CIC is being selected. He said there was no search committee to select the CIC and no documents were given to him before the meeting so that he could have gone through those.
In the case of the CVC, Chowdhury said he objected to the inclusion of finance secretary Rajiv Kumar in the panel since he was in the search committee and an applicant as well.
However, he did not object to the selection of Kothari and Julka as the CVC and CIC respectively.
The person quoted above said the Prime Minister acknowledged Chowdury’s grounds of objections in both cases.
Vigilance Commissioner Sharad Kumar has been acting as the interim CVC since July last year. Kumar, a former chief of anti-terror probe agency National Investigation Agency (NIA), took over as Vigilance Commissioner in June 12, 2018. His tenure at the Central Vigilance Commission will end in October next year, when he completes 65 years of age.
The Central Vigilance Commission consists of a CIC and two Vigilance Commissioners. The CVC was set up by the Centre to address governmental corruption.
The post of Chief Information Commissioner, meanwhile, is lying vacant since the retirement of Sudhir Bhargava in January last year. A former secretary in the Ministry of Social Justice, Bhargava was appointed the CIC in January, 2019. The CIC is the highest appeal body under the Right to Information Act (RTI).
The government had notified new RTI rules in October last year, curtailing the tenure of information commissioners to three years. The 2005 act gave them a fixed tenure of five years or a retirement age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.