SC reserves verdict on plea against Thomas'' appointment as CVC

New Delhi, Feb 10 (PTI) The Supreme Court todayreserved its verdict on petitions challenging the appointmentof former bureaucrat P J Thomas, who is facing a corruptioncase in a Kerala court, as Central Vigilance Commissioner.

A bench of Chief Justice S H Kapadia reserved theirorders after hearing arguments from various sides, includingthose by Prashant Bhushan, counsel for petitioner Centre forPublic Interest Litigation, Thomas'' counsel K K Venugopal andAttorney General G E Vahanvati.

During the hearing, the bench wanted to know if thethe Leader of the Opposition can have a veto power in theprocess of CVC''s appointment.

Leader of the Opposition is one of the three membersof the high-level panel headed by the Prime Minister and alsocomprising Union Home Minister, for the CVC''s appointment.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan pointed out that the purposeof having the Leader of Opposition on the panel was to ensurethat the government does not steamroll the selection process.

During the hearing, senior advocate Venugopal arguedthat irrespective of placement of all materials before thepanel, the process of appointment will not be vitiated.

He said the consultation process is independent of thematerial placed before the panel.

He also questioned the court for holding a judicialreview over the issue of appointee''s integrity saying whetherthe panel looked into it or not is not for the court toenquire into.

Venugopal said the panel functions as a recommendingbody on the basis of which the President appoints a person asthe CVC and nobody knows what materials are considered.

He said the CVC''s appointment is not based on therecommendation by the Council of ministers and an independentdecision is taken by the panel.

He also said the President is the appointing authorityand there was no challenge to this aspect.

He said Thomas'' appointment was justified as a Keralagovernment order had clearly said that no case was made outagainst him in the Palmolein import case, nor was he undersuspension and was appointed as the state government''s chiefsecretary.

Venugopal followed the government''s line of argumentthat there was also no challenge to the CVC clearance given tohim on the basis of which he was appointed as secretary in theCentral government. .

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