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Chargesheet is not a stigma: Govt on CVC case

The SC had sought govt`s view on criteria of impeccable integrity required for appointment as CVC.



New Delhi: The government on Thursday told the Supreme Court that once a bureaucrat is given a vigilance nod
for appointment as secretary, no further clearance is required
for empanelment for appointment as Central Vigilance
Commissioner.

"Once a person is appointed as secretary on clearance
by CVC, he can be considered for empanelment and no further
inquiry is required," Attorney General G E Vahanvati submitted
before a bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia.
Vahanvati made the submission while responding to
various questions by the bench, which also sought his view on
the criteria of impeccable integrity required for appointment
as Central Vigilance Commissioner.

"Impeccable integrity is an important requirement,"
Vahanvati said, responding to queries from the bench.

But as the bench asked, "Does it apply to all cases
where there is a stigma of chargesheet", the attorney general
said, "This is a grey area."

The law officer contended that filing of the
chargesheet is not a stigma when the bench posed a question.

The court wanted to know if a bureaucrat, accorded
vigilance clearance for appointment as secretary, does not
require any further examination for appointment for posts
above that of the secretary.

During the hearing, advocate Prashant Bhushan,
appearing for the Centre for Public Interest litigation, which
has moved the court challenging appointment of P J Thomas as
CVC, said various factors about the Palmolein import case were
not before the CVC when it gave vigilance clearance to Thomas.

The CVC had not taken into account the chargesheet
pending against him, he claimed, adding the issue of sanction
for his prosecution by the state government was not brought
before the anti-corruption watchdog.

The case diary was also not brought before the CVC, he
said, contending that the report of the committee of public
undertaking in Kerala was also not presented before it.

"The CVC gave clearance to Thomas only on the basis of
the note placed before it by the Department of Personnel and
Training," he said. "The CVC cannot be the final authority," the bench
said, stressing that the appointment has to be in accordance
with the Vineet Narain judgement which makes it clear that the
CVC has to remain independent, impartial, free and fair and
uninfluenced by political executives.

Vahanvati said the criterion of an outstanding person
with impeccable integrity has to be taken undoubtedly into the
consideration for appointment as CVC.

The bench, however, said, that in the given case, the
issue of charge sheet and sanction for prosecution of Thomas
were not considered by the Personnel and Training ministry and
others.

The bench wanted to know if the material facts were
not considered, then what would be the position.

Vahanvati also said that the vigilance clearance given
by the CVC to Thomas in 2007 was not challenged by anyone.

"Nobody ever challenged what CVC said. All these facts
were placed before him (CVC)," he said.

He said there was a detailed office memo in 2005
dealing with the case in which the state government had said
that the whole case has to be withdrawn.

While Vahanvati was making the submission, the bench
asked if the CVC can say that there is no merit in a case
pending before the high court when a chargesheet too has been
filed in it.

Totality of the circumstances has to be considered in
the case, the bench said.

At this, the attorney general said, "All sorts of
allegations are being levelled."

This prompted the bench to remark, "That is why we are
not on the merits of the case but only examining it on the
law."

The court also wanted to know if the CVC report on
Thomas was placed before the committee headed by the Prime
Minister, which went into the selection of CVC.

The Attorney General said it is never placed before
the committee.

"It is not required to be placed once empanelment is
given. Once there is a CVC clearance and empanelment, it is
difficult to hold another enquiry," he said.

At this point, senior advocate K K Venugopal submitted
that Thomas has never gone to court relating to the case.

PTI

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