Thursday, March 3, 2011

Supreme Court quashes Thomas’s appointment

New Delhi, March 3, 2011

The Supreme Court on Thursday quashed the appointment of P.J. Thomas as Central Vigilance Commissioner, saying the recommendation made by the high-powered committee headed by the Prime Minister did not consider the relevant material and as such its advice "does not exist in law".

"We declare that the recommendation made by the high-powered committee is non-est in law. Which means that the recommendations made on September 3, 2010 does not exist in law. Consequently, the appointment of [Mr] Thomas goes," a bench comprising Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia and Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and Swantatntra Kumar said.

The Bench severely criticised the committee for not considering the relevant material, including the pending criminal case against Mr. Thomas in the Palmolein import case and the recommendations of the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) between 2000-04 for initiating disciplinary proceedings against him.

"It is the duty of the high-powered committee (HPC) to not to recommend the name of a person who can affect the institutional integrity of the CVC," the bench said, adding the institutional integrity and the integrity of a person holding the post of CVC is the touchstone of the office under the CVC Act.

The court said the HPC failed to consider relevant material against Mr. Thomas and the entire focus was on his bio-data and none of the government bodies including the DoPT focussed on larger issue of institutional integrity.

The Bench also suggested that any future appointment should not be restricted to civil servants alone but people of impeccable integrity from other fields should also be considered.

The Supreme Court rejected the contention of Mr. Thomas and the government that the appointment of the CVC cannot be brought under judicial review, saying the legality of the recommendation can be brought under judicial review

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