The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear a PIL,challenging the appointment of Shashi Kant Sharma as Comptroller and Auditor General of India on the day when the former defence secretary assumed his new office. Sharma,a 1976-batch Bihar cadre IAS officer was on Thursday sworn in as the new CAG by President Pranab Mukherjee.
The 61-year-old bureaucrat took over from Vinod Rai,who superannuated on Wednesday after a five-and-a-half years stint.
A Bench of Justices B S Chauhan and Dipak Misra,however,turned down a request by the petitioner for an urgent hearing on his prayer to stay Sharmas appointment and posted the matter for hearing in July.
The PIL stated that 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, it contended.
The PIL also urged the apex court to frame guidelines for appointment of the CAG,averring there was no formal system provided under the Comptroller and Auditor-Generals Act. Claiming there was no eligibility criteria for appointment of CAGs,it pointed that the appointment was made after the government,on the basis of a note by the finance ministry,makes recommendations to the President. As the process is completely non-transparent and is arbitrary,the government can appoint any person as CAG, said the plea. It added that Sharma,who is a science graduate followed by a masters degree in political science,lacked knowledge of accounting.
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, said the petition.