Supreme Court takes up the question of the CVC P J Thomas

The post of the CVC (Chief Vigilance Commissioner) is a very critical post in terms of the fight against corruption. This is a post that forms critical oversight of the various actions of the executive, and is yet seen as independent of the control of the Government (unlike the other major investigating agency, the CBI, which acts under the control of the Government through the Ministry of Personnel). In the past, the various actions taken by the CBI have shown it to be a compromised agency, given its incredibly slow rate of progress in the investigations into the 2G telecom scam, its investigation into the issue about the 1984 riots case, all the actions taken in the Bofors case, and so on. By any yardstick, the level of confidence in the independence of the CBI is much lower, specifically in the case where the investigation is being conducted on an arm of the Government.
Some time back, the court ordered a cleanup of the post of the CVC, making it an independent body which is outside the control of the Government, and tried to make sure that the post of the CVC is somewhat independent. This was done through setting some guidelines for the selection of the person to become the CVC, including giving a role to the Leader of the Opposition in terms of the selection. Another criteria was the desired objective of the person being totally free of any taint (which was something that is in dispute, since the current CVC has a chargesheet filed against him for a case of import of food oil in Kerala in the 90’s).

The Supreme Court has now taken up the role of doing an investigation of the appointment of the CVC, expressing disappointment over the selection of a person who has a case against him, and was also selected against the wishes of the Leader of the Opposition (who took up the unprecedented step of filing a written dissent against the selection of the current CVC, P J Thomas). One of the items that is even more critical in this case is that the gentleman was also the Secretary Telecom at a time when the 2G controversy was building up, and really did not do anything to stop the various illegal acts that were ongoing. As a result, now the Supreme Court has started raising questions on the ability of the CVC to do a proper investigation of the 2G scam (refer news article):

The Supreme Court on Tuesday embarrassed the government by questioning the tenability of Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) P J Thomas supervising the CBI’s investigations into the 2G spectrum scandal as he himself was the telecom secretary at the time of 2G spectrum allocation. A bench of justices GS Singhvi and Ashok Kumar Ganguly pointed out that since the CBI functions under the over all supervision of the CVC, it would be difficult for Thomas to objectively monitor the investigations.
The Supreme Court had last week raised questions about Thomas’ controversial appointment as CVC despite his name figuring as an ‘accused’ in a criminal case. His name figures in the chargesheet filed in a palmoleine export case.

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