CVC case: Supreme Court reserves verdict

Thursday, February 10, 2011

NEW DELHI - The Supreme Court reserved its verdict on petitions challenging the appointment of former bureaucrat PJ Thomas, who is facing a corruption case in a Kerala court, as Central Vigilance Commissioner, on Thursday.

A bench of Chief Justice S H Kapadia reserved their orders after hearing arguments from various sides, including those by Prashant Bhushan, counsel for petitioner Centre for Public Interest Litigation, Thomas’ counsel KK Venugopal and Attorney General GE Vahanvati.

During the hearing, the bench wanted to know if the the Leader of the Opposition can have a veto power in the process of CVC’s appointment.

Leader of the Opposition is one of the three members of the high-level panel headed by the Prime Minister and also comprising Union Home Minister, for the CVC’s appointment.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan pointed out that the purpose of having the Leader of Opposition on the panel was to ensure that the government does not steamroll the selection process.

During the hearing, senior advocate Venugopal argued that irrespective of placement of all materials before the panel, the process of appointment will not be vitiated.

He said the consultation process is independent of the material placed before the panel.

He also questioned the court for holding a judicial review over the issue of appointee’s integrity saying whether the panel looked into it or not is not for the court to enquire into.

Venugopal said the panel functions as a recommending body on the basis of which the President appoints a person as the CVC and nobody knows what materials are considered.

He said the CVC’s appointment is not based on the recommendation by the Council of ministers and an independent decision is taken by the panel.

He also said the President is the appointing authority and there was no challenge to this aspect.

He said Thomas’ appointment was justified as a Kerala government order had clearly said that no case was made out against him in the Palmolein import case, nor was he under suspension and was appointed as the state government’s chief secretary.

Venugopal followed the government’s line of argument that there was also no challenge to the CVC clearance given to him on the basis of which he was appointed as secretary in the Central government. (ANI)

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