The appointment of the former Defence Secretary, Sashi Kant Sharma, as the 12th Comptroller and Auditor-General of India has been challenged in a public interest writ petition in the Supreme Court.

A vacation Bench of Justices B.S. Chauhan and Dipak Misra on Thursday directed that the petition by advocate Manoharlal Sharma be listed for hearing on July 1, when the court reopens after summer vacation.

Mr. M.L. Sharma, who made a mention for early hearing, alleged that the selection of Vinod Rai’s successor was shrouded in secrecy. “None of the parliamentarians/political parties has been consulted.” The petitioner alleged that Mr. Sashi Kant Sharma, a 1976 batch Bihar cadre officer, had worked in the Defence Ministry for almost 10 years when all-important defence acquisitions were made. It was during his tenure the defence budget was increased from around Rs 25,000 crore to more than Rs. 2 lakh crore and it was still under CAG audit.

The AgustaWestland chopper deal, being investigated by the CBI over allegations of payment of kickbacks to many people in order to have the contract approved, had been prepared and finalised by Mr. Sashi Kant Sharma along with the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, the petitioner said, adding an interested person could not be appointed auditor to audit his own accounts report, work and performance during his previous tenure. Various other multibillion defence deals were also pending CAG audit.

Thus the Centre’s appointment was a mala fide and arbitrary exercise of power to justify its “financial manipulations” pending before the CAG for auditing, he said.

‘An interested person cannot

audit his own performance in Defence Ministry’