The centre has appointed former Central Board of Direct Taxation (CBDT) chief KV Chowdary as the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) while seniormost Information Commissioner Vijai Sharma has been appointed the new Chief Information Commissioner (CIC).
The two corruption watchdog positions have finally been filled after lying vacant for months.
With Chowdary's appointment, the government has for the first time broken away with the tradition of appointing an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer as the chief of the anti-corruption watchdog since it was formed in 1964.
In April, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi had attacked the prime minister over the delay in the appointments of chiefs of CIC, CVC and Lokpal, saying the government feared transparency.
Many RTI activists had also questioned the delay in the appointments. The CIC, which is mandated to resolve appeals and complaints filed against government departments or public authorities by information seekers under the Right to Information Act, has been working without a chief for over nine months, after the tenure of CIC Rajiv Mathur ended on August 22, 2014.
Sources said there were 203 applicants, including all seven information commissioners, for the post of the Chief Information Commissioner and 553 for the post of information commissioners.
Under the RTI Act, the CIC has one chief and 10 information commissioners. TM Bhasin, Chairman and Managing Director of Indian Bank, has also been appointed as Vigilance Commissioner while Sudhir Bhargava, former Social Justice and Empowerment Secretary, has been named as Information Commissioner.
Their appointments were approved on Monday by President Pranab Mukherjee, a Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson said, a week after PM Narendra Modi and Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge recommended their names.
In CVC, the term of CVC Pradeep Kumar had ended on September 28, 2014, while vigilance commissioner JM Garg completed his tenure on September 7. Sources said the government had received about 130 applications for the two posts.