The Supreme Court on Monday declined to entertain two public interest writ petitions challenging the appointment of Shashi Kant Sharma as Comptroller and Auditor-General of India.
A Bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justices Ibrahim Kalifulla and Vikaramajit Sen asked the petitioners to approach the High Court concerned for relief.
In the first petition, the former Chief Election Commissioner, N. Gopalaswami, and eight other eminent citizens, said: “As far as the office of CAG is concerned, the government has followed no system for selection. There are no selection committee, no criteria, no transparency and no call for applications or nominations. The process is entirely arbitrary and opaque, and thus completely violative of rule of law and several judgments of this court. Also, the zone of consideration has been restricted to civil servants, a limitation not found in the Constitution.”
The petitioners said Mr. Sharma’s tenure as Defence Secretary saw the eruption of a scam in purchase of Tatra trucks for the Army. “The appointment of a person with such direct conflict of interest is also against the code of ethics of auditors. An auditor who, for whatsoever reason, cannot be, or is expected not to be, unbiased, cannot be allowed to function as an auditor, more so as India’s constitutional auditor of the public finances.”
In the second petition, advocate M.L. Sharma alleged, “None of the parliamentarians/political parties has been consulted.” Senior counsel Fali Nariman appeared for Mr. Gopalaswami and the others who included Admirals (Retd) R.H. Tahiliani and L. Ramdas, former Chiefs of Naval Staff; B.P. Mathur, former Deputy CAG; and Ramaswamy R. Iyer.
This article has been edited to incorporate the following correction:
The third paragraph of “Challenge CAG appointment in HC, Supreme Court tells Gopalaswami” (July 16, 2013) read: “In the first petition, the former Chief Election Commissioner, N. Gopalaswami, and either other eminent citizens, said: …” It should have been eight other eminent citizens. It was an editing error.