Eligible persons should be without blemish whatsoever
In a major blow to the Centre, the Supreme Court on Thursday quashed the appointment of P.J. Thomas as Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC).
A Bench of Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia and Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar set aside his appointment acting on the writ petitions filed by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation, the former Chief Election Commissioner, J.M. Lyngdoh, and others. And within hours of the judgment, Mr. Thomas stepped down from the post.
Mr. Thomas had been appointed CVC pursuant to a recommendation made by a high power committee (HPC) headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, who was a HPC member, disagreed with the decision. The other member was Home Minister P. Chidambaram.
Justice Kapadia, who wrote the judgment, held invalid the HPC's decision and pointed out that as of date, Mr. Thomas was accused No. 8 in the Kerala palmolein case pending in the Court of the Special Judge, Thiruvananthapuram, for offences under Section 13(2) read with 13(1) (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and under Section 120B (conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.
The Bench, quoting an earlier judgment, said eligibility criteria would indicate that eligible persons should be without any blemish whatsoever and they should not be appointed merely because they were eligible to be considered for the post.