Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar was on Saturday unanimously chosen the next Chief Vigilance Commissioner, four months after the Supreme Court had quashed the appointment of P J Thomas to the post.
Though no official announcement has been made yet, sources said Kumar, who retires as Defence Secretary on July 31, was chosen by consensus by a panel comprising Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Home Minister P Chidambaram and Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj.
Kumar, who will be 62 in September, is a Haryana cadre IAS officer of the 1972 batch.He was Secretary, Defence Production, before becoming the Defence Secretary.He will have a tenure of little over three years when he will have to demit office on attaining the age of 65.
Swaraj, who had opposed in writing the appointment of Thomas as CVC, had no objection to Kumar’s candidature.”The name has been finalised… I have not raised any objection,” Swaraj told reporters after the 20-minute meeting at the Prime Minister’s official residence but she did not disclose the name.
Sources had said that a list of probable candidates were prepared by the Department of Personnel and Training which placed it before the selection panel.
Those whose names figured in the initial list included Pradeep Kumar, former Home Secretary G K Pillai, former Chemicals and Fertilisers Secretary Bijoy Chatterjee, former Secretary, Legislative Affairs V K Bhasin, former Urban Development Secretary M Ramachandran and Personnel Secretary Alka Sirohi.
Pillai and Sirohi are said to have opted out of the race.
Thomas’ selection in September last had created a major controversy with reports coming out about his facing a charge sheet in the palmolein import scandal in Kerala.
A war of words erupted between the government and the opposition after Swaraj had recorded her dissent to the selection of Thomas, a Kerala cadre officer.
The Supreme Court had on March 3 set aside the appointment of Thomas as Central Vigilance Commissioner.In the midst of a raging controversy, the Prime Minister had also accepted responsibility for the selection.
The apex court had termed as “illegal” the September 3, 2010 recommendation for appointment of Thomas as CVC since the high-powered committee did not consider the pending charge sheet against Thomas in the palmolein import scam.