Sanjay Kothari, the secretary to the President, was on Saturday appointed as the Central Vigilance Commissioner, head of the country's anti-corruption watchdog CVC, according to a Rashtrapati Bhavan communique. The post of the chief of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) had been lying vacant since June last year after completion of K V Chowdary's tenure.
"At a ceremony held today at 1030 hrs at Rashtrapati Bhavan, Sanjay Kothari was sworn in as the Central Vigilance Commissioner," the communique said. He made and subscribed the oath of his office before the president, it said. The name of Kothari was recommended by a high-level selection panel headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in February.
The move was then opposed by the Congress that had termed the process adopted for the appointment of the Central Vigilance Commissioner as "illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional" and demanded immediate scrapping of the decision. Kothari's appointment to the top post of the probity watchdog now may further escalate the war of words between the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress.
Reacting on his appointment, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari had in February demanded initiation of a fresh process for appointing the Central Vigilance Commissioner by inviting applications again. "What we demand is that the entire process needs to be scrapped in its entirety, a de-novo process needs to be instituted, a fresh search committee needs to be constituted, which is not conflicted. Applications need to be invited afresh," he had said.
Without taking any names, Tewari had said a man who is neither an applicant whose candidature was not considered by the search committee beyond the applicants and who is not in the short-list is then cleared for appointment as next Central Vigilance Commissioner. He had also pointed out that one of the applicants and short-listed persons by the search committee was one of the members of panel itself.
Kothari, a 1978-batch IAS officer of Haryana cadre, retired in June 2016 as secretary, department of personnel and training. He was in November 2016 appointed as the chief of the government's head-hunter -- the Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB). Kothari was in July 2017 named as the secretary to President Ram Nath Kovind. Meanwhile, the central government had on Monday appointed Kapil Dev Tripathi as the secretary to the president. Tripathi, a 1980-batch IAS (retired) officer of Assam-Meghalaya cadre, is the PESB chairman.
The Central Vigilance Commissioner is appointed by the president on the recommendation of the selection committee consisting of the prime minister as its chairperson, and the Home Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha, as its members. The tenure of CVC chief is of four years or till the incumbent attains the age of 65 years.
The CVC can have a Central Vigilance Commissioner and two Vigilance Commissioners. At present, Vigilance Commissioner Sharad Kumar is working as the interim Central Vigilance Commissioner. After Kothair's appointment, there is still a vacancy of a Vigilance Commissioner in the commission.