CVC loses job, UPA face

Rejecting every argument trotted out by the government defending the appointment of Central Vigilance Commissioner P J Thomas — who's facing a corruption case — the Supreme Court today quashed the appointment.

"It is declared that the recommendation dated September 3, 2010, of the High Powered Committee of P J Thomas as Central Vigilance Commissioner is non-est (non-existent) in law and, consequently, the appointment is quashed," the Supreme Court pronounced.

The Prime Minister-led committee, the court said, had overlooked the law that the "institution" of the Central Vigilance Commission is more important than the "individual" Thomas.

In an unprecedented half-hour reading of the 71-page judgment, in which the key reasons for quashing Thomas's appointment were spelt out, Chief Justice of India S H Kapadia — who led the three-judge Bench also comprising Justices K S Panicker Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar — said the joint recommendation of the PM and Home Minister P Chidambaram disregarding the dissent of the third committee member, Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj, without considering the relevant material on Thomas, amounted to "official arbitrariness".

"The High Powered Committee must take into consideration the question of institutional competency. If the selection (of Central Vigilance Commissioner) adversely affects institutional competency and functioning then it shall be the duty of the HPC not to recommend such a candidate. Institutional integrity is the primary consideration for the appointment of the Central Vigilance Commissioner. In the present case, this vital aspect has not been taken into account by the HPC...," the court said.

However, it added, it did not discount the personal integrity of the candidate (meaning Thomas).

Rebutting the government's argument that the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction to question the committee's decision, Chief Justice Kapadia, who authored the judgment, observed that the court would certainly intervene if the "legality of the decision" is doubtful.

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