New Delhi, Feb 11: The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a plea seeking to quash appointment of Shashi Kant Sharma as the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) on the grounds of conflict of interest.
The plea stated that as country's auditor Sharma would be judging a number of defence deals that were concluded or cleared when he was defence secretary.
The apex court bench of Chief Justice H.L. Dattu, Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Arun Mishra rejected the plea, as Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi cited the constitutional provisions prescribing the CAG's appointment by the President on the aid and advice of the council of ministers.
Rohatgi told the court that under the constitution the CAG's appointment rested with the government and the constitution has left it to the government to aid and advise the President on the appointment of the CAG and the court could not interfere in it.
The court observed that the attorney general was skirting the issue.
It told Rohatgi that counsel Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioners, was contending that the way court had interpreted the provisions of the constitution to put in place the collegium system for the appointment of judges and free it from executive interference, similarly, court should interpret constitutional provisions for the appointment of CAG to make it more transparent and non-arbitrary.
At this, the attorney general told the court that the interpretation of the constitution in the second judges case in 1992 creating the collegium system for the judges' appointment was incorrect.
"One day, we will have to debate whether it (creating collegium system) was right or wrong. I submit it was wrong. That was wrong assessment of the constitution. There was no audit (of the performance of the judges)," Rohatgi told the court.
"How is it that judges appointed after 1990s (by collegium system) were better and those appointed from 1952 onwards were not up to the mark?"
Addressing the court, Bhushan told the court there has to be transparent procedure for CAG's appointment.
"This is an important position. Why should not be there some system and procedure for the appointment of CAG. People should know that such a position is going to be filled up so that they can make recommendations."
"If you demonstrate that this person (to be appointed as CAG) suffers from disability before the court of law , then this court can certainly say that the appointing authority should have taken these disabilities into account at the time of making appointment," court told Bhushan.
Former Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami, former Naval chiefs Admiral (retd.) R.H. Tahiliani and Admiral (retd.) L. Ramdas, three former secretaries to the government Kamal Kantt Jaswal, Ramaswamy R. Iyer and E.A.S. Sarma, a former IAS officer and Army officer M.G. Devasahayam, former deputy CAG B.P.
Mathur and former Indian Audit and Accounts Service officer S. Krishnan have moved the PIL seeking a writ of quo warrant to set aside the appointment of Sharma as CAG.