New Delhi, May 21: Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma was today appointed as the next Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) at a time when the institution is under focus in the wake of controversies surrounding its mandate.
The 61-year old 1976 Bihar cadre officer will succeed Vinod Rai, during whose tenure the CAG was locked in confrontations with government on various audit reports, like the ones on 2G spectrum and coal block allocations.
Rai superannuates tomorrow after five-and-a half years of eventful tenure as the head of the Constitutional body.
"The President of India has appointed Shashi Kant Sharma, IAS, as the Comptroller & Auditor General of India, in terms of Article 148 (1) of the Constitution of India," the Finance Ministry said in a statement.
Sharma, who holds a Masters degree in Political Science from the University of York, will take charge as Comptroller & Auditor General on May 23.
He will be administered the oath of office by President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday.
Like Vinod Rai, Sharma too has served as Secretary in the Department of Financial Services. He has spent over 10 years in the Defence Ministry in various capacities.
The CAG is appointed for a term of six years or till the incumbent attains the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
Sharma's appointment comes at a time when the CAG has come under sharp attack from the government and ruling party for its reports on assessment of Rs 1.76 lakh crore loss in allocation of 2G spectrum.
Under Rai's tenure, the CAG was accused of going beyond its auditing ambit and indulging in analysing policy decisions.
Rai, however had hit back saying the government just wanted the CAG to be an accountant.
Just a few days before Rai's retirement, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said the chief auditor had done a "disservice" to India story by bringing out "hugely exaggerated and mythical numbers" in public discourse.
The new CAG Sharma will have to handle the audit report on AgustaWestland chopper deal, among other reports. He was closely associated with the deal from its early days till its completion in 2010.