New Delhi: In yet another embarrassment for the UPA government, the Supreme Court on Monday questioned the appointment of PJ Thomas as the Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) by casting apprehension on his suitability for the post as a criminal case is pending against him.
“Without looking into the file, we are concerned that if a person is an accused in a criminal case how he will function as CVC,” a bench headed by Chief Justice SH Kapadia said.
The bench said it will go through the file and posted the matter after two weeks.
“We will sit together and go through the file,” the bench also comprising Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar said.
The name of Thomas figures in the chargesheet filed in a palmoleine export case.
After the file was placed before it, the apex court bench said it would like to know whether the eligibility criteria of impeccable integrity has been met.
The bench told Attorney General G E Vahanvati that the issue as to how Thomas will function as CVC when his name is there in a chargesheet will crop up at every stage. The AG sought to clarify that there was no involvement of Thomas in palmoleine export case and the sanction to prosecute him had not been processed.
The bench, however, said, “Let us proceed on assumption that at every stage there will be allegations that you should not processs a file as CVC as you are accused in a criminal case. How will you function as CVC? “In every case the CBI has to report to him,” the bench pointed out.
“Under the service jurisprudence, a person cannot even be considered for promotions when a chargesheet is pending against him,” said the bench.
“At this stage as a chargesheet is pending against him since 2002, he is not even considered to be promoted. We are only suggesting whether he will be able to function as CVC. He himself will be an embarrassment,” it said.
“Since this matter is very important, we will structure our order on this basis,” it said.
The bench clarified that it was not on the merits of the case but it only wanted to know if the whole procedure including the criteria of impeccable integrity was followed in the appointment of Thomas as CVC.
Maintaining that whole process was followed, the Attorney General told the court that if such allegations are taken into consideration, every judicial appointment may come into scrutiny.
The bench said the palmoleine case was handled by the state wing of CVC and Thomas is heading the central organisation.
The AG said J M Lyngdoh, who filed the petition, had himself prepared Thomas’ ACR stating that his integrity was beyond doubt and yet he filed the petition.
Refuting allegations in a petition filed by civil societies – Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) and Common Cause – questioning Thomas’ appointment as CVC, Vahanvati had said the statements made in the petition were not correct.