Appointment of CAG stirs controversy as 7 officers senior to Murmu given a go-by

One sulking officer proceeds on ‘protest’ leave

Nishikant Khajuria

JAMMU, Aug 9: The appointment of former J&K Lieutenant Governor Girish Chandra Murmu as Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has stirred a controversy as a senior officer in this Constitutional body to oversee public finance of the Government has proceeded on ‘protest’ leave while a few others are purportedly sulking over installation an officer on the top post despite being junior to them.
Official sources told the Excelsior that seven officers in the organization, senior to G C Murmu, were given a go-by in appointment of the incumbent, who is known for his proximity to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi since the latter was Chief Minister of Gujarat.
Vijayraghavan Ravindran, a 1983 batch officer of the Indian Audit and Account Service, is the senior officer in the office of CAG, who has proceeded on long leave while Ravindran, Roy S Mathrani (both belonging to 1983 batch), Saroj Bunhani, Meenakshi Gupta (both of 1984 batch), Shubha Kumar, J Mahalekshmy Menon and Namita Sekhon (all three of the 1985 batch) are the other officers senior to G C Murmu, sources added.
All these seven officers are Deputy CAGs of the rank of Secretary to the Government of India and are technically senior to G C Murmu, who is an officer of 1985 batch of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and had retired last year.
Besides, two other officers of equivalent seniority in the Indian Audit and Accounts Service are on deputation outside the CAG’s office. They are; 1983 batch officer Sudha Krishnan, Member, Finance, Space Commission, holding additional charge in the same position in the Atomic Energy Commission and the Earth Commission and 1984 batch officer Gargi Malhotra, who is a Secretary level officer in the Ministry of Defence.
This is for the first time that such a big number of senior officers were ignored and given a go- by in the appointment of CAG- the Constitutional authority, which is mandated to oversee public finances of the Union Government, State Governments and public organizations.
Pertinent to mention that G C Murmu, a retired IAS officer of the Gujarat cadre, is considered very close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. He was Relief Commissioner when Modi became Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2001. He went on to hold the positions of Commissioner, Mines and Minerals and Managing Director, Gujarat Maritime Board. In 2004, he was Joint Secretary, Home Department, under Amit Shah.
After Modi moved to New Delhi as Prime Minister, G C Murmu was appointed Joint Secretary in the Department of Expenditure in the Ministry of Finance in the year 2015. Two years later, he became Special Secretary in the Department of Revenue in the same ministry and in 2019, he became Secretary, Department of Expenditure, before moving to Jammu and Kashmir as first Lt Governor of the Union Territory following re-organization of erstwhile J&K State. After serving as the Lt Governor for nine months, Murmu was appointed as Comptroller and Auditor General of India on August 7.