Petition challenging appointments of CVC and VC dismissed by SC

Supreme Court: Appointments of Chief Vigilance Commissioner and the Vigilance Commissioner, which were assailed by the petitioner Common Cause and others, were upheld by the Bench in a Judgment delivered by Arun Mishra, J. speaking for himself and M.M. Shantanagoudar, J.

Prashant Bhushan, learned counsel for the petitioner, lead a scathing charge against the appointment of current CVC K.V. Chowdary and VC T.M. Bhasin as he submitted that they could not be termed as persons of ‘impeccable integrity’. As many as thirteen points were raised while assailing the appointment of CVC besides questioning VC’s appointment. The grounds on which CVC’s appointment was assailed included, inter alia, the allegations of quid pro quo between CVC and former CBI Director Ranjit Sinha; involvement in the infamous ‘stock guru scam’; failure to make headway in 2G scam investigation; failure of investigation into foreign accounts in HSBC Bank, Geneva; inaction in Radia tape investigations, etc. As far as the challenge to appointment of VC is concerned, the allegations were, inter alia, that he was indicted in a detailed inquiry by CVC for forging and tempering with the appraisal report of the General Manager, Indian Bank, in pursuance to which criminal prosecution was suggested against him and there was a finding of moral turpitude against him. On the other hand, K.K. Venugopal, learned Attorney General for India, took the Court in extensive details with respect to the appointment procedure while repelling the challenges put forth by the petitioner. He further contended that the appointments were made unanimously by a High Powered Committee and were unassailable.

Supreme Court made a point-wise consideration of all the challenges. The Court observed that most of the challenges were mere aspersions and were unsubstantiated allegations. Investigations and enquiries were conducted in almost all the cases raised by the petitioner and neither the CVC nor the VC were found on the wrong side of the law in any report; in fact, they were cleared of all the allegations. It was observed that the Government is not accountable to the courts for the choices made but the Government is accountable in respect of the legality of its decisions. However, in the instant case, the Court after observing that nowadays we are in a scenario where such complaints cannot be taken on face value, reached the conclusion that the decisions of appointments of CVC and VC were taken after following due procedure by the High Powered Committee; no illegality could be found in the decision made; and hence  there were no grounds to quash the appointments. [Common Cause v. Union of India, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 644, decided on 02-07-2018]

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