The government today faced searching questions over the process of appointment of central vigilance commissioner (CVC) and vigilance commissioner (VC), with the Supreme Court asking it why only those who had applied for the posts were considered.
The government today faced searching questions over the process of appointment of central vigilance commissioner (CVC) and vigilance commissioner (VC), with the Supreme Court asking it why only those who had applied for the posts were considered. The apex court said the appointment of CVC and VC was a “serious issue” and persons having impeccable integrity were not considered for the posts just because they did not apply. “This is a very serious issue that you are inviting applications like this. If a person of impeccable integrity will not apply, he cannot become a CVC or VC,” a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and M M Shantanagoudar said.
“If only 10 persons apply for the post, you will select one out of them. But there may be many persons who are more eligible than those selected for this post. For CVC, you are confining your selection,” the bench said. The court observed this while hearing a plea challenging the appointment of incumbent CVC, K V Chaudhary, and VC T M Bhasin alleging that they did not have “clean record” and a non-transparent procedure was followed while appointing them. Attorney General K K Venugopal, however, said that many allegations could be levelled against the persons who were appointed to such posts.
Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the government, said that details of every candidates, who had applied for the posts of CVC and VC, was checked by the vigilance department and Chaudhary and Bhasin were given clearances by the agencies. “The only question is that even in case of vigilance commissioner, there was a clearance from vigilance and other agencies. The selection committee, after going through all the reports, had said that there are no grounds to disqualify him (Bhasin),” Venugopal told the bench which reserved its verdict on the plea filed by NGO ‘Common Cause’.
The Attorney General said every aspect was considered by the selection committee comprising the Prime Minister, Home Minister and the Leader of Opposition before selecting the persons for the posts of CVC and VC. During the hearing, the bench also posed questions about the appointment process for various tribunals in the country and told the Centre that rules must be particular for making appointments for tribunals. “Now, even stenos are coming up for interviews for posts in tribunals. It is a shocking state of affairs. You cannot do like this. Rules must be particular. There should be correct qualification, correct criteria for every post. What is this happening,” the bench said.
“What you have done needs serious re-look. If you will not examine it, we will take it suo motu (on its own),” the bench said.
However, Mehta assured the bench that he would take up the matter at the “highest level”. Meanwhile, advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO, alleged there were serious allegations against Chaudhary and Bhasin but there were not looked into by the committee before appointing them. Countering his allegations, Venugopal said all these aspects were looked into by the committee before arriving at a decision. Bhushan alleged that Chaudhary, being a senior official of the income tax department, had not taken any action in the controversial Niira Radia phone tapping case.
To, this, the bench observed, “that is not for us to go into the Radia case”. Chaudhary’s counsel also refuted Bhushan’s allegastions and said no shortcomings were pointed out in the investigation carried out by Chaudhary in the Radia case and all the reports said that he was an honest officer whose integrity cannot be doubted. Bhushan’s claims were also countered by Bhasin’s counsel who said that some fictitious complaints were made against him which had no basis.
The bench also observed that it was concerned about the suitability of a person holding such posts and it was all about “impeccable integrity” of the candidate selected for it. The PIL had alleged that their appointments were “arbitrary, illegal and in violation of the principle of institutional integrity”.