New Delhi: 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 turn 60 this month, is a Haryana cadre IAS officer of the 1972 batch. He was Secretary, Defence Production, before becoming the Defence Secretary. He will have a five year term as he will have to demit office on attaining age of 65 under the CVC Act.
      
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 was 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 Kuma, 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 Courthad 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.

Pradeep Kumar: A seasoned bureaucrat


Newly-appointed CVC Pradeep Kumar, an IIT-Delhi alumni and Haryana cadre IAS officer of the 1972 batch, is a seasoned bureaucrat who has traversed the corridors of power in the capital having served in various key ministries.
       
His selection as CVC comes at a time when he is due to complete a two-year tenure as Defence Secretary before which he was Secretary, Defence Production, and Secretary, Disinvestment.
       
Kumar did his graduation in Electrical Engineering from IIT-Delhi before joining the IAS in 1972. He belongs to the Haryana cadre.
     
In 1986, he went to University of Wales, UK, on study leave to do a Masters in Economics and Social Sciences.
       
As an IAS officer, Kumar is well-versed with the corridors of power in the capital. In 1997, he served as Joint Secretary in the ministry of heavy industries and public enterprises.
       
Kumar, who is Defence Secretary at present, was appointed to the post for a two year term in 2009. He was to retire on July 31. Kumar's earlier postings also include Chairmanship of National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and as Additional Secretary, Mines and Minerals at the Centre and Resident Commissioner of Haryana in Delhi.
        
As CVC, Kumar will have a term of more three years.  He would be under close scrutiny of the opposition and the media in his new role as the post of CVC was mired in controversy over the appointment of P J Thomas as its chief, a decision that was quashed by the Supreme Court.
        
The Supreme Court had issued some guidelines to the government for the appointment of CVC while quashing Thomas' appointment.
        
With Kumar's candidature having been approved unanimously, he is expected to have a smooth sailing.
        
Kumar will have a busy tenure as the watchdog body is overseeing investigations by the CBI of several high profile corruption cases which have hit the UPA-II government.

(Agencies)