New Delhi, March 15 (IANS) The Supreme Court will hear, on April 29, a plea seeking quashing of the appointment of Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) K.V. Chowdary and Vigilance Commissioner (VC) T.M. Bhasin as their appointment was allegedly in breach of the principle of “institutional integrity”.
A bench of Chief Justice T.S.Thakur and Justice Uday Umnesh Lalit said that matter would be heard on April 29 – the day it is listed for hearing – after senior counsel Ram Jethmalani mentioned it for an early hearing, saying that a man who should not have been there was enjoying the fruits of his appointment.
As the bench asked about the date when he would like the matter to be heard, Jethmalani said that it is listed for hearing on April 29 and that should not be disturbed.
“It will not be disturbed,” Chief Justice Thakur told Jethmalani assuring him that the matter would be heard on the day it is listed for hearing.
The apex court had on August 13, 2015, issued notice to the central government on a petition by NGO Common Cause seeking quashing of the appointment of Chowdary and Bhasin as their appointment violated the principle of “institutional integrity”.
The notice was also been issued to Chaudhary and Bhasin.
The NGO’s counsel Prashant Bhushan had in an earlier hearing urged the court to direct the government to make available the minutes of the meeting wherein Chowdary and Bhasin were appointed, as well as seeking the material that was placed before the Selection Committee relating to them.
The PIL by Common Cause and some others has urged the court to declare the appointments as “illegal and void” as they violated the principles of “impeccable integrity” and “institutional integrity” spelt out by the apex court in earlier judgments.
Even before the appointment of Chowdary as CVC, the NGO had told the court that several representations were made by Jethmalani and Bhushan to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Congress leader in Lok Sabha Malikarjun Kharge giving specific reasons why Chowdary was “not eligible and suitable for heading this important institution”.
Bhushan, the NGO had said in its PIL said, in his letter pointed out that Chowdary was in-charge of investigating the alleged 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.
Common Cause had also told the court that Chowdary was investigating the Niira 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, the court was told that despite all the representations questioning his suitability to head the anti-corruption watchdog, the government went full steam ahead to appoint “their favoured candidate”.
Common Cause had said that Bhasin was appointed VC despite being “indicted in a detailed inquiry by the Central Vigilance Commission 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 NGO said in its PIL.