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SC notice on plea for unanimous selection of CVC

Posted on Aug 05 2014 | IANS

New Delhi, Aug 4 : The Supreme Court Monday issued notice on a plea that the selection of the chief vigilance commissioner (CVC) should be done unanimously and not by majority and in a transparent manner by inviting applications.

A bench of Chief Justice R.M. Lodha, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman issued the notice after senior counsel Ram Jethmalani told the court that it had, in its judgment in P.J. Thomas case, ruled that in the case of difference in the selection committee, the majority view will prevail with both majority and minority recording views in support of their respective positions.

The court said notice was returnable in four weeks after it was told that the present CVC would demit office shortly and the process to find his successor would commence soon. The PIL sought to restrain the government from making any appointment of a CVC till the matter was heard and decided by the court.

Thomas was the former CVC whose appointment was set aside as the fact of his alleged wrongdoing in the palm oil import scam in 1992, when he was Kerala's civil supplies secretary, was not brought before the selection committee comprising then prime minister Manmohan Singh, home minister P. Chidambaram and then leader of opposition Sushma Swaraj.

The petition said that for being appointed as the CVC or a vigilance commissioner, a candidate must have experience in the area (vigilance) as provided in the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013, including for the judges of high court and that of apex court. At present there is no such requirement.

The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013, says that a non-judicial member must have a minimum of 25-year experience in the matters relating to anti-corruption policy, public administration, vigilance, and finance, including insurance and banking, law and management.

Holding that provisions of the CVC Act, 2003, relating to the appointment of the CVC and vigilance commissioner were arbitrary and in breach of the Constitution's Article 14 - equality before the law - the petition said there was no transparency in making the appointment of a CVC or a vigilance commissioner.

The PIL says that Section 3(3)(a) of the CVC Act talks about "having the knowledge and experience in the matters relating to vigilance" and thus the CVC Act ought to have provided that those being appointed or considered for appointment as CVC or vigilance commissioner "must possess minimum experience for a required number of years say two years, three years and so on in matters relating to vigilance".

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