Supreme Court reserves verdict on CVC’s appointment

Thursday, February 10, 2011

NEW DELHI - The Supreme Court Thursday reserved its verdict on a Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) petition challenging the appointment of Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) P.J. Thomas.

The petitioner challenged Thomas’ appointment on the grounds that he was facing a chargesheet in a palm oil imports case in Kerala and was not an outstanding civil servant of impeccable integrity.

While an apex court bench of Chief Justice H.S. Kapadia, Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan and Justice Swatanter Kumar reserved the verdict, it was told that any appointment of the CVC that disregarded the view of the leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha would get politically coloured.

The apex court was told that the negation of the views of the leader of opposition would be the negation of very purpose for which the leader of opposition was included in the selection committee.

Appearing for the CPIL, senior counsel Prashant Bhushan told the court that the “majoritarian” approach would make CVC selection and appointment politically partisan.

The selection committee consists of the prime minister, the home minister and the leader of opposition.

Bhushan argued in favour of the selection panel taking cognizance of the views expressed by the leader of opposition.

The court said: If we accept your contention then does it not amount to giving veto power to the leader of opposition.

Veto power concept is very important to be addressed. In future we don’t want to confront this problem again, said the judges.

The court indicated that it favoured consensus on the selection of the CVC. The court agreed with Bhushan’s suggestion that the prime minister should record his reason in writing for disregarding the opinion of the leader of opposition.

As Bhushan told the court that the government was determined to appoint Thomas as the CVC even before the meeting of the selection committee, Attorney General G. Vahanvati objected to it saying that this averment had no basis.

Court told Bhushan that if your averment is on fact then come on affidavit.

Bhushan suggested guidelines for the selection of the CVC should be prepared by the cabinet secretary, the entire process should be transparent and in public domain, there should be unanimity in the selection panel and empanelled officer should be of impeccable integrity.

Senior counsel K.K. Venugopal appearing for Thomas said that anything that is not there in the CVC Act could not be read against his client.

He said that if the CVC Act is silent on a convict becoming the CVC then the conviction could not be cited as disqualification. He said that if appointment was according to the procedure laid in the CVC Act, then it could not be challenged.

Bhushan said that this was against the spirit of the apex court judgment in Vineet Narain case in the Jain hawala (money laundering) transaction matter. In the judgment, the court had said that the CVC should be an outstanding civil servant of impeccable


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