Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar was on Saturday unanimously chosen Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC). The selection was made by a high-power committee headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and including Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, informed sources said.
The top slot in the Central government's anti-corruption watchdog body fell vacant after the Supreme Court, on March 3, quashed the appointment of P.J. Thomas as CVC as he was under a cloud for his alleged involvement in the nearly two decades-old edible oil import scam in Kerala. The court also laid down guidelines for appointment of the new CVC, saying all civil servants and persons of impeccable integrity from outside should also be empanelled.
Though no official announcement was made about Saturday's selection, the sources said Mr. Kumar, who would retire as Defence Secretary on July 31, was chosen by consensus.
Last September, a major controversy erupted as Ms. Swaraj had expressed her dissent in writing to the appointment of Mr. Thomas, a Kerala cadre IAS officer. Now she did not have any objection to Mr. Kumar's candidature. “The name has been finalised … I have not raised any objection,” she told journalists after the 20-minute meeting at the Prime Minister's official residence here. However, she did not disclose the name.
The sources said a list of probable candidates, prepared by the Department of Personnel and Training, was put up before the committee. The list included, apart from Mr. Kumar, the names of the former Home Secretary, G.K. Pillai; the former Chemicals and Fertilizers Secretary, Bijoy Chatterjee; the former Secretary, Legislative Affairs, V.K. Bhasin; the former Urban Development Secretary, M. Ramachandran; and the Secretary (Personnel) Alka Sirohi, it is learnt. Both Mr. Pillai and Ms. Sirohi were said to have expressed their desire to opt out of the race.
Mr. Kumar, who will turn 62 this September, belongs to the 1972 batch of the Haryana cadre of IAS. He was Secretary, Defence Production, before becoming Defence Secretary. He will serve as CVC for a little over three years, having to demit office on attaining the age of 65.
Kumar will hold post for a little over three years