Shashi Kant Sharma sworn-in as new CAG

New Delhi, May 23 (IANS) Shashi Kant Sharma, a Bihar cadre Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, was Thursday sworn-in as the new Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), the government’s official auditor.

Sharma, 61, a former defence secretary, was sworn-in by President Pranab Mukherjee at a ceremony held in Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Sharma succeeds Vinod Rai, who demitted office Wednesday on retirement. The new CAG will serve till Sep 24, 2017.

The swearing-in ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari and Congress leader Rajiv Shukla, among others.

During Rai’s five-and-a-half year tenure, the audit body was virtually involved in confrontations with the government.

Rai drew flak from the government and the ruling parties for holding press conferences and interacting with media over audit details.

Sharma, who holds a masters in political science from the University of York, has served as secretary in the department of financial services and 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.

Sharma’s appointment comes at a time when the CAG has come under sharp attack from the government for its assessment of Rs.1.76 lakh crore loss in allocation of 2G telecom spectrum.

Aam Aadmi Party leader and Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan flayed Sharma’s appointment as the CAG, terming it illegal and unconstitutional.

Bhushan’s main contention was that Sharma in the last 10 years held several sensitive positions in the defence ministry that dealt with procurements and his appointment as the CAG would mean a conflict of interest.

A public suit has also been filed in the Supreme Court challenging Sharma’s appointment as the CAG.

The opposition BJP expressed reservations over Sharma’s appointment, saying there could be a “conflict of interest” as he will be auditing defence deals in which he had a role as defence secretary.

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