New Delhi: Reliance Industries has appointed former Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) K.V. Chowdary to its board of directors, according to a Friday night regulatory filing the company made to the stock exchanges.
The Mukesh Ambani-owned company noted that the board had appointed Chowdary as a non-executive additional director.
“In accordance with the circular dated June 20, 2018, issued by the Stock Exchanges, we hereby confirm that Shri K.V. Chowdary, is not debarred from holding the office of director by virtue of any Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) order or any other such authority,” it said.
Chowdary, an officer of the Indian Revenue Service, served as the CVC from June 2015 to June 2019.
His four-year tenure was marked by some controversy in relation to a handful of politically-sensitive cases, particularly with regard to the infighting in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in 2018.
In late 2018, the Supreme Court directed the CVC to complete a probe into former CBI boss Alok Verma’s actions under the supervision of retired judge A.K. Patnaik. On November 16, 2018, having gone through Chowdary’s report, the apex court directed Verma to file his reply in a sealed cover.
As The Wire reported at the time, Verma leveled serious allegations against Chowdary and questioned his integrity as the CVC. “I am surprised that the line of questioning being adopted by the CVC is as if I am already guilty and have to prove my innocence rather than the other way around,” Verma stated.
Verma also stated in writing that Chowdary had visited him to request he withdraw the adverse comments he had made on fellow CBI officer Rakesh Asthana, considered a blue-eye boy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Chowdary’s time at India’s tax department, where he first headed investigations and later became chairperson of the Central Board of Direct Taxation (CBDT), also overlapped with the investigation into the ‘Sahara-Birla’ papers – a group of documents that allegedly indicated that senior Indian politicians, including Narendra Modi, may have accepted bribes.
Advocate-activist Prashant Bhushan has also alleged that former CBI director Ranjit Sinha investigated whether Chowdary had any links to a high-profile investment fraud case known as the ‘Stock Guru scheme’, a probe which eventually cleared the CVC.
His selection as CVC was challenged in the Supreme Court, but a bench of judges led by Justice Arun Mishra eventually dismissed the case, saying that the complaints against him could not be taken at face value.