Monday, January 17, 2011

CVC posting outside judiciary ambit: Govt

It Can’t Test Thomas’s Suitability As CVC

 Judiciary is not the forum to test P J Thomas’s suitability as central vigilance commissioner, the Centre told the Supreme Court on Monday.
    The government attached little importance to the court’s query about Thomas’s suitability as CVC. The executive’s sole prerogative to satisfy itself on the suitability of a candidate could not be questioned in a judicial forum, it said in an affidavit.
    “The Prime Minister and the home minister found Thomas as the most suitable candidate to hold the post of the central vigilance commissioner,” it said, making light of Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj’s dissent which fuelled the demand for his resignation. It said unanimity in a democratic selection process did not always work. “Merely because one member of the committee (Swaraj) did not agree with the majority view, the majority view cannot be termed as illegal,” the Centre said.
    Ruling party leaders had failed to persuade Thomas to resign after filing of a PIL, which sought quashing of his appointment. Fresh hearing on the PIL, on which the court had sought responses of the Centre and Thomas, is scheduled for January 27.
    The Centre backed Thomas’s selection, integrity and suitabili
ty for CVC’s post. It said, “The question of suitability of a candidate is squarely the domain of the appointing authority. The argument about suitability of a candidate cannot be raised in judicial proceedings.”
    Less than two months ago, the court had said even if Thomas had impeccable integrity, the pending charge sheet would pose difficulty. “Whenever he will entertain a complaint and order inquiry, he will face the question –‘you yourself are an accused, how can you look into another complaint’,” it had said.
    Last month, the court had asked the Centre and Thomas to respond to a PIL, which sought quashing of his appointment because he was accused of criminal conspiracy in the palmolein oil import scam. High priced import of oil in the 1990s allegedly caused huge loss to Kerala. This month, the court cleared the way for resumption of trial in the case.

    The Centre told the court that Thomas was cleared of any wrongdoing in the palmolein import scam by the CVC in October 2009, prior to his appointment as telecom secretary in the Union government through a rigorous process.
    It countered the charge that government had ignored Swaraj's dissent on Thomas as CVC, which the PIL said breached the selection process undertaken by a committee also comprising Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and home minister P Chidambaram.
    The Centre made light of Swaraj's dissent and said unanimity in choice of candidate for CVC's post was not mandated by law. Argument for a consensus was misconceived and unworkable, it said. "It would also be unworkable as one person in the committee would be able to stall an appointment which is certainly not the intention of the statute," the government said.

SC takes up plea for judicial probe into Banda minor rape case New Delhi: The Supreme Court will on Friday examine the need for a judicial probe into the alleged rape of a minor girl by a ruling BSP legislator and her subsequent illegal jailing on theft charges. The girl was released on Saturday but her arrest and imprisonment has raised questions about the breach of the Juvenile Justice Act, which mandates that minors accused of a crime be produced before a designated board and be kept in remand homes. A bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia on Monday said it would hear on Friday senior advocate Harish Salve’s plea for a probe by Allahabad district judge into the sexual assault case. Salve requested the court to seek a probe report from the district judge within a week.

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