New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday lifted its embargo andÂ allowed the Centre to go ahead with the appointment of CentralÂ Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) and a Vigilance Commissioner from theÂ list of candidates shortlisted by it.
The two posts have been lying vacant for past few months and the apexÂ court had on December 17, 2014 asked the Centre to take its priorÂ â€œleaveâ€ before going ahead with the appointment for which 10Â candidates each have been shortlisted after scrutinising 130Â applications received in response to the advertisement issued in thisÂ regard.
â€œKeeping in view the urgency for appointment of the CVC and vigilanceÂ commissioner, the posts which have been vacant since last few months,Â we allow to make the appointments,â€ a bench comprising Chief Justice HÂ L Dattu and Justices Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy said.
The bench directed that after making the appointments, AttorneyÂ General Mukul Rohatgi will place before it the entire records andÂ materials including the list of candidates who applied for the twoÂ posts.
Further, the bench clarified that it will be open for all the partiesÂ to come up with their contentions.
At the outset, Rohatgi submitted that the government has started theÂ procedure for appointment of CVC and a Vigilance Commissioner and aÂ committee of three Secretaries â€” Cabinet Secretary, Finance SecretaryÂ and Secretary of Department of Personnel and Training â€” hasÂ shortlisted candidates keeping in mind total transparency needed forÂ the process.
â€œThe purpose of transparency has been achieved and now the appointment process is at the final stage,â€ he submitted, adding that the idea isÂ to have a person of highest integrity.
The Attorney General said the stage has come when the PIL filed on the issue required to be closed and anyone having any grievance can move Â the apex court later.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO which had filed theÂ PIL, raised some objections to the appointment of the CommitteeÂ comprising three secretaries, saying the procedure adopted was contrary to the law that envisaged a panel comprising the Prime Â Minister, Leader of Opposition and Home Minister for the purpose.
However, the bench said those having any grievance can approach the court.
The Attorney General also said the committee comprising the PrimeÂ Minister, Leader of Opposition and Home Minister will take a finalÂ view on the appointments.
The bench was hearing a PIL filed by NGO Centre for Integrity,Â Governance and Training in Vigilance Administration alleging that the government was going ahead with the appointment of CVC and VC withoutÂ giving wide publicity to the vacancies arising following completion ofÂ tenure of CVC Pradip Kumar and the then VC J M Garg.
Kumar and Garg completed their tenure on September 28 and September 7Â respectively last year.
The apex court had earlier rapped the Centre for lack of transparencyÂ in the selection process of CVC and VC, following which governmentÂ gave the assurance that no final decision will be taken without itsÂ nod.
The Supreme Court had said lack of transparency in selection processÂ of CVC and VCs promoted â€œfavouritism and nepotismâ€ and had asked whyÂ only bureaucrats were picked for the posts and not common people.
Explaining the selection process, the Attorney General had submittedÂ that the Cabinet Secretary and 36 other secretaries proposed the namesÂ of 120 people for the posts.
Out of those 20 names were selected and then the names of shortlistedÂ five were forwarded to the selection committee.
The PIL had referred to the July 21, 2014 letter issued by theÂ Secretary, Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), to SecretariesÂ in the government to suggest names for empanelment for the post of CVCÂ and VC, allegedly aimed at keeping away common people.
The NGO had contended the Centre ought to have similar procedure forÂ making appointment of CVC and VCs as is being done for filling up theÂ post of chairperson and eight posts of members in the Lokpal under theÂ provisions of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013.