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Why only bureaucrats are picked for vigilance posts, asks SC

Why only bureaucrats are picked for vigilance posts, asks SC

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday rapped the Centre for lack of transparency in the selection process of Chief Vigilance Commissioner and Vigilance Commissioners, following which government gave the assurance that no final decision will be taken without its nod.

Raising questions on lack of transparency in the selection process of CVC and VCs, the court said this promotes “favouritism and nepotism” and asked why only bureaucrats are picked for the posts and not common people.

“Transparency should be the hall mark of such selection procedure and existing system is being criticised because of lack of transparency,” a bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha said, adding, “Every system which confines to an in-house procedure for selection is criticised by people for lack of transparency“.

The bench, also comprising justices Kurian Joseph and R F Nariman, said, “Pool of talent is there in the country and people want transparency. Why should you adopt a procedure that deprives sunlight to reach people who are talented but not considered.”

“Lack of transparency promotes nepotism and favouritism and many deserving people don’t get a chance of being considered,” the bench said.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi submitted that application cannot be invited from people for the post as many people prefer to be considered by the Centre for the post rather than apply for it.

He said that selection process would take at least one month time to complete and assured the court that “no final decision would be taken on appointment during the pendency of the case in the apex court“.

The apex court, after hearing his plea, asked the Centre to file its response by October 9 and posted the case for final hearing on October 14.

Enumerating the selection process, the Attorney General said that Cabinet Secretary and 36 other Secretaries proposes the name of 120 people for the post out of which 20 names are taken and five people are shortlisted and forwarded to the selection committee.

The bench, thereafter asked about the criteria under which names are forwarded and different Secretaries might have different yardstick while sending the names.

The court was hearing a PIL alleging that Centre was going ahead with the appointment of CVC and VC without giving wide publicity to the vacancies arising on the completion of tenure of CVC Pradip Kumar and VC J M Garg on September 28 and September 7 respectively.

The PIL filed by an NGO, Centre for Integrity, Governance and Training in Vigilance Administration, referred to the July 21 letter issued by the Secretary, Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), to Secretaries in Government to suggest names for empanelment for the post of CVC and VC, allegedly aimed at keeping away the common people.

Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, appearing for the NGO, said as per apex court verdict it was not necessary to put a restriction that every person who applies for the post should be a civil servant.

The NGO contended the Centre ought to have similar procedure for making appointment of CVC and VCs as is being done in the case of filling up one post of Chairperson and eight posts of Members in the Lokpal under the provisions of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013.

The procedure entails giving wide publicity for the appointment of Lokpal, inviting applications from people from all walks of life without any restriction.

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