The Supreme Court held PJ Thomas’s appointment as illegal primarily because the selection committee did not consider “vital facts” relevant to his suitability as the chief of India’s top anti-corruption agency.
“CVC is a crucial institution against corruption.. It is not enough to see if the person is clear in terms of integrity, but also whether his appointment will ensure that the Central Vigilance Commission can function as a premier institution for fighting corruption in the country,” advocate Prashant Bhushan, counsel for the Centre for Public Litigation told reporters outside the Supreme Court.
He said the Court held Thomas’ appointment “illegal and void” since the documents showed that the high powered committee that selected him — comprised of the Prime Minister, the Home Minister and the leader of the opposition — did not consider “vital facts” relevant to his suitability as a candidate for the post.
“The high powered committee should have considered, but did not consider the fact that there was a[corruption] case against him [in Kerala] and that disciplinary action was recommended against him many times.. The selection made without considering such vital factors is illegal and void,” Bhushan said, quoting the verdict by the Supreme Court today.
The Court also asked the government to henceforth consider non-civil servant candidates to the post of chief vigilance commissioner and also give clear reasons for over-ruling objections of any member of the appointment panel if he or she objects to the appointment.
Thomas was appointed as CVC after the Manmohan Singh and P Chidambaram over-ruled opposition leader Sushma Swaraj, without giving any reason.
Bhushan also hoped that the latest setback from the Supreme Court will force the government to bring a “proper Lok Pal” bill instead of the current toothless version to the Parliament.