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Supreme Court refuses to quash appointment of central vigilance commissioner

The apex court said it cannot interfere into the appointments of Chowdary and Bhasin as no grounds have been made to quash their appointments.

india Updated: Jul 02, 2018 20:30 IST
Supreme Court,central vigilance commissioner,CVC
A view of Supreme Court building in New Delhi, India.(HT File Photo)

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to quash the appointments of Central Vigilance Commissioner K V Chowdary and Vigilance Commissioner T M Bhasin, saying such complaints accusing them of not having “clean record” cannot be taken on face value as these could be made even against “very honest persons”.

The apex court said it cannot interfere into the appointments of Chowdary and Bhasin as no grounds have been made to quash their appointments.

“We have not interfered with the appointments. The complaints against Chowdary were made and they were looked into. It is not for this court to decide on the choice,” a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Mohan M Shantanagoudar said.

“We are nowadays in the scenario that such complaints cannot be taken on face value. Even against very honest persons, allegations can be made. Those days have gone when filing of the complaints was taken as serious aspersions on integrity. Ideally, there should not be any serious complaint as the filing of the same raises eyebrows. As in the instant matter, complaints have been looked into and we decline to interfere,” the bench said.

The court delivered the verdict on pleas challenging the appointment of Chowdary and Bhasin alleging that they did not have “clean record” and a non-transparent procedure was followed while appointing them.

“Resultantly, we find no grounds to quash the appointment of respondent no.2 (Chowdary) as CVC and respondent no.3 (Bhasin) as VC. Writ petitions are disposed of accordingly,” the bench said in its 86-page judgement.

Two petitions were filed by NGOs Common Cause and Center for Integrity Governance and Training in Vigilance Adminstration.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Common Cause, had earlier alleged there were serious allegations against Chowdary and Bhasin but there were not looked into by the committee before appointing them.

Attorney General K K Venugopal had then said that many allegations could be levelled against the persons appointed to such posts. He had said all these aspects were looked into by the committee before arriving at a decision.

Bhushan had alleged that Chowdary, being a senior official of the income tax department, had not taken any action in the controversial Niira Radia phone tapping case.

Chowdary’s counsel had also refuted Bhushan’s allegations and said no shortcomings were pointed out in the investigation in the Radia case and all reports had said 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.

Regarding Chowdary, the bench said in its today’s verdict, that each and every aspect and information had been placed before the High Power Committee when the decision was taken.

“Thus, the integrity of the decision ­making process has not impinged in this case in any manner whatsoever, neither the decision taken to appoint Chowdary as CVC can be said to be suffering from any illegality. The decision cannot be said to be influenced by extraneous considerations and the choice made of Chowdary cannot be said to be such which is amenable for interference by the court in judicial review,” the bench said.

The bench also said that the recommendation of Bhasin cannot be said to be suffering from procedural infirmity in decision-making and the integrity of the procedure has been maintained.

“Though there was no complaint, the aforesaid aspect which has been urged on behalf of the petitioners was looked into by the High Power Committee on the basis of inputs made. Thus, nothing adverse was found in the final conclusion in the matter of writing of APAR (AnnualPerformanceAppraisalReport) ....

“Thus, we find that no case is made out with respect to the appointment of Bhasin as Vigilance Commissioner to make interference in judicial parameters,” it said.

The PIL had alleged that their appointments were “arbitrary, illegal and in violation of the principle of institutional integrity”.

First Published: Jul 02, 2018 19:51 IST