After close to a year of not having a head, Keralaâ€™s Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) finally has a director as DGP Nirmal Chandra Asthana was appointed to the post on Monday.
State police chief Loknath Behera had been bearing additional charge of the VACB director till now.
Asthana is a 1986 batch IAS officer who was on central deputation. He was appointed as the Special Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs in March 2017.
He has also served as the Inspector General of Central Reserve Police Force.
Asthana has a brilliant academic record and has worked as a nuclear physicist in the past. He has also authored several books including one on internal security.
The Vigilance post has been vacant ever since Behera returned to the post of State police chief in June 2017.
Behera took charge as the Director VACB on May 8, 2017 after the Kerala government reinstated his predecessor TP Senkumar as the DGP following Supreme Court orders to this effect.
From that time onwards, Behera has been holding additional charge of VACB director.
Senior IPS officer Jacob Thomas was the director of VACB when he was asked to go on leave on March 31, 2017 by the government.
Thomas had to go on leave after the High Court remarked that he was going beyond the remit of judiciary and legislature. On May 2, on the day he had to re-join service, Thomas extended his leave. On June 19, when Thomas returned to service, he was appointed director of the Institute of Management in Government (IMG).
On a couple of occasions, the Kerala High Court had flayed the government for keeping the crucial post vacant, despite the state having 12 DGP posts. â€śWhat is the need to have 12 DGP posts in the state, is it allowed as per Centre rules? Why the charge of VACB director not handed over to anyoneâ€ť the court had asked.
The Opposition had also lashed out against the government for keeping the post vacant alleging that it was done intentionally to scuttle a few cases.
The policeâ€™s anti-corruption unit has been flooded with many cases.