CVC on thin ice as SC grills Centre

The continuation of Central Vigilance Commissioner P J Thomas in office became more tenuous as Supreme Court raised further doubts about the process of his appointment. HT reports.
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Updated on Jan 28, 2011 01:23 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | By, New Delhi

The continuation of Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) P J Thomas in office became more tenuous as Supreme Court raised further doubts about the process of his appointment.

Among other things, the SC has questioned if the decision to appoint Thomas would not get vitiated by the fact that a pending corruption charge sheet against him was not placed before the appointing panel headed by the prime minister.

The Kerala government had sanctioned his prosecution on the basis of that chargesheet.

"It's better if he (the CVC) resigns," a senior government functionary admitted. When the case had flared up in November 2010 Thomas had offered to quit but ultimately did not. Thomas was not available for comment.

To a specific query from a bench headed by Chief Justice SH Kapadia, Attorney General G E Vahanvati said: "It's a matter of fact that the material pertaining to the chargesheet and sanction for his prosecution… was not before the committee. Only the bio-data of the three candidates was placed before it. Since there are no minutes of the meeting, it would be difficult to say whether the aspect of corruption case was discussed or not."

The leader of opposition (Sushma Swaraj) had simply written a note 'I disagree", he told the court after placing the records before the court.

Swaraj has said that she will file an affidavit in court challenging the government.

"The government is speaking one untruth after another," she said.

The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) is responsible for placing the files pertaining to each candidate before the high-powered committee.

Surprised at the revelation, the bench asked if the high-powered committee's decision, in absence of such crucial facts, vitiated the appointment-making procedure.

The AG answered in the negative.

"No, it does not. Thomas had got CVC clearance before his appointment at the Centre," Vahanvati said.

Vahanvati, however, said: "If your Lordships feel otherwise, then perhaps we need to reconsider this (the appointment procedure.)"

SC also asked the government to explain how candidates for the post were short-listed and eliminated.

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