M A I N   N E W S

CVC Appointment Questioned
SC issues notices to Thomas, Centre
Tribune News Service & PTI

New Delhi, December 6
Central Vigilance Commissioner P J Thomas on Monday expressed happiness over the issuing of notice to him by the Supreme Court, saying it will give him an opportunity to present his case on the petition questioning his appointment. “I am told that Supreme Court has issued a notice. I am glad that the court has given me an opportunity to present my case,” Thomas told reporters here.

Earlier, after perusing the files related to Thomas’ controversial appointment, the Supreme Court today issued notices to him and the Centre seeking their response to the PILs challenging his elevation.

“We have gone through the files. We will issue a notice,” a three-member Bench headed by Chief Justice SH Kapadia remarked and passed the relevant order without entertaining any detailed arguments.

Attorney General GE Vahanvati accepted the notice on behalf of the government but declined to accept it on behalf of Thomas. He sought six weeks’ time to file a response.

Counsel Prashant Bhushan, who appeared for the PIL petitioners, opposed a long adjournment as it was a “sensitive matter which should be heard as soon as possible”. Nevertheless, the Bench posted the next hearing for January 27. Today’s hearing barely lasted a couple of minutes.

At the last hearing on November 8, the Bench, which included Justices KS Panicker Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar, had sought the files relating to the appointment of Thomas as CVC, head of apex anti-corruption watchdog Central Vigilance Commission. It had also orally asked the AG to find out from the Centre as to how Thomas would function as the CVC in view of the allegations against him in two cases — the 2G spectrum scam in 2008 and the irregularities in the import of palm oil in 2000. However, the Bench had refrained from issuing a notice then.

The PIL petitioners — NGOs Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) and Common Cause and former Chief Election Commissioner JM Lyngdoh — have sought quashing of the appointment made on September 7 this year.

According to the petitioners, the Centre had violated the Supreme Court guidelines issued in the Vineet Narain case relating to ‘hawala’ transactions. The Supreme Court had then suggested the selection of the CVC by a committee consisting of the Prime Minister, Home Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha.

The apex court had also directed the government to choose the CVC from a panel of outstanding civil servants with unimpeachable integrity.

The petitioners had contended the Centre had brushed aside the objection of Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj, besides ignoring the fact that Thomas was still an accused in the chargesheet filed by the CBI in the palm oil case.

When the case was called out for hearing today, the AG did not come forward with the Centre’s response to the SC query on the relevance of Thomas continuing as the CVC.





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