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SC issues notice to gov't in P Bhushan 'unsuitable' CVC appointment PIL

The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice to the central government on a petition by NGO Common Cause seeking quashing of the appointment of Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) KV Chaudhary and Vigilance Commissioner (VC) TM Bhasin as it breached the principle of “institutional integrity”.

The notice has also been issued to Chaudhary and Bhasin.

A bench of Chief Justice HL Dattu, Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Amitava Roy sought responses from the central government as well as Chaudhary and Bhasin in two weeks. It gave a week’s time to Common Cause to file a rejoinder if any.

The NGO’s counsel Prashant Bhushan urged the court to direct the government to make available the minutes of the meeting wherein Chaudhary and Bhasin were appointed, as well as seeking the material that was placed before the Selection Committee relating to Chaudhary and Bhasin. The court asked Bhushan to make an appropriate application for seeking these records.

Earlier, NGO Centre for Integrity, Governance and Training in Vigilance Administration had moved the court seeking the broadening the zone of consideration for the appointment of the CVC and VC and making entire process transparent.

The court had on December 17, 2014, asked for central government to take its permission before going ahead with the appointments. The permission was granted on May 13.

The PIL by Common Cause and some others has urged the court to declare the appointment of Chaudhary and Bhasin as “illegal and void” as it violated the principles of “impeccable integrity” and “institutional integrity” spelt out by the apex court in earlier judgments.

Even before the appointment of Chaudhary as CVC, the PIL says several representations were made to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others including Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Congress leader Malikarjun Kharge giving specific reasons why he was “not eligible and suitable for heading this important institution”.

The representations were made by eminent jurist and Rajya Sabha member Ram Jethmalani and Bhushan.

Bhushan, the PIL said, had in his letter pointed out that Chaudhary was in-charge of investigating the allegedly illegal account holders in foreign countries (in HSBC bank) for almost three years and until apex court appointed the SIT on black money, there were almost no progress in the income tax investigation under him and not a single case had been filed.

PIL also says Chaudhary was investigating the Radia tapes and did not take any action on evidence available with him. Similarly he was investigating IT cases in 2G scam and failed to take any action in contrast to action taken by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate.

However, despite all the representations questioning his suitability to head the anti-corruption watchdog, the government went full steam ahead to appoint “their favoured candidate”.

The PIL said that Bhasin was appointed VC despite being “indicted in a detailed inquiry by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) in 2013 for forging and tampering with appraisal report of the then general manager of the Indian Bank, which is a criminal offence”.

The CVC had undertaken an inquiry against Bhasin after Malay Mukherjee complained to it on July 11, 2011 that his Annual Performance Appraisal Report (APAR) was tampered with. It was found that the complaint was true and Bhasin had changed the grading of “excellent” with “average” with a view to destroy his career, the court was told.

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