Restrained from appointing the chief and a member of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), the government has moved the Supreme Court, seeking its nod to make the appointments in the anti-corruption watchdog.
The move signals that the government has finalised names. The chairs have been vacant since September 2014 after the retirement of the central vigilance commissioner and one of the two vigilance commissioners.
The Centre has based its argument on the selection-process being an exercise of power by constitutional authorities. It has also expressed opposition to a scrutiny of the applicants in judicial proceedings.
In its application, the government has sought modification of the court order of December 17, while asserting its statutory power to make the appointments to the CVC through a selection committee that is headed by the PM.
Claiming that its selection process met all requirements under the CVC Act, the government has maintained that the appointment process was an exercise to be carried out by the constitutional authorities and, hence, could not be presumed to be illegal or malafide.
“In the absence of any illegality or cause of action having arisen, this Hon’ble Court would not restrain the respondents (Centre) the selection committee under the CVC Act from going ahead with the present selection,” it said. The application added: “It is humbly submitted that this court would decline any pre-selection scrutiny of the list of candidates, or from interfering with the functions assigned to the statutorily created selection committee under the Act, consisting of the PM, the Home Minister and the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha or leader of the single largest party.”
The Centre has claimed that the selection process adopted by it was “fully transparent” and completely adheres to the mandate laid down under the CVC Act. The application said that it would be in the interest of justice that the court modify its order of December 17 whereby a bench led by Chief Justice H L Dattu had permitted the government to proceed with the selection process but said no appointment will be made without its approval.
“Before sending the appointments to the President, come to us. We are not concerned with who is being appointed, but we will see whether the due procedure is followed or not,” the bench had then told Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi. It had also asked him to adduce details of the selection process in a sealed cover note on the next date of hearing. The case will heard next on February 6.
The selection process had come under the radar of the court when a bench headed by previous Chief Justice R M Lodha admitted the PIL by NGO ‘Centre for Integrity, Governance and Training in Vigilance Administration.’