Thiruvananthapuram: Dr N C Asthana, a 1986 batch IPS officer of the Kerala cadre, was on Monday appointed the new chief of the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB). Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday signed the order of appointment.
Asthana was on central deputation. On March 2017, he was appointed the Special Additional Secretary (CFT) in the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Ealier, an RTI query made public revealed that the posting of Lokanath Behera as state Vigilance chief had no clearance from the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and the Personnel Department.
As per rules, if any officer is posted as state Vigilance chief, even on a temporary basis, permission has to be taken from the Union Home and Personnel Ministries. Apparently, in Behera's case, this has not been followed.
The RTI reply had put the LDF government on back foot as the opposition leaders came down heavily on Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who also holds the home portfolio.
Behera, known as the the 'blue eyed boy' of the LDF government, was posted as state police chief the day Pinarayi Vijayan assumed office in May 2016, after the then chief T P Senkumar was moved out.
However, Senkumar after an 11-month legal battle got his post back through a Supreme Court directive.
Later, Behera returned as state police chief after Senkumar retired after serving 55 days as state police chief in May last year, and since then he has been holding both the posts.
Behera was made Vigilance head, replacing DGP Jacob Thomas, in March 2017.
Meanwhile, the state government has now written to the Center seeking to downgrade the latter post from cadre to ex-cadre. If the Center gives approval to its proposal to downgrade the VACB director post to ex-cadre, the government will be able to appoint an ADGP of its choice to that post.
The state government has constantly been castigated by the High Court for not making a full-fledged appointment to the post of VACB director.
Under these circumstances, the government has no other option but to appoint a new officer to the VACB director post.