The Supreme Court on Thursday sought a response from the Centre and the recently appointed Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) KV Chaudhary and Vigilance Commissioner (VC) TM Bhasin on a fresh plea challenging the appointments on the ground that the two people do not have clean record. A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu sought their response within two weeks on the PIL filed by NGO Common Cause. The bench, meanwhile, asked lawyer Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO, to file an application for seeking various records pertaining to the CVC and the VC.
Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, who also appeared in the case supporting the plea, sought the court’s permission to inspect the records filed by the central government in this regard. “Records should come to us first. Records must be inspected by us first,” the bench also comprising Justices Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy said. The plea had challenged the appointment of the CVC and the VC alleging that they did not have “clean record” and that a “complete non-transparency” procedure was followed while appointing them.
While Chaudhary was appointed as the CVC on June 6, this year, Bhasin took charge as the VC on June 11. The PIL alleged that their appointments were “arbitrary, illegal and in violation of the principle of institutional integrity”. “The government did not even place the names of short-listed candidates in public domain or the fact that Chaudhary and Bhasin were being considered for the appointment to such important positions,” the plea said. It said that this complete non-transparency renders the appointment “void and illegal”, and in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution.
The apex court, which has been hearing a similar petition filed by NGO Centre for Integrity, Governance and Training in Vigilance Administration, had on May 13 lifted its embargo and allowed the Centre to go ahead with the appointment of CVC and VC from the list of candidates shortlisted by it. In December last year, the apex court had asked the Centre to take its prior “leave” before going ahead with appointments for which 10 candidates each were shortlisted after scrutinising 130 applications.