New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday September 5 issued a notice to the Centre on a plea seeking timely and transparent filling of long-pending vacancies in the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to ensure that the commission can effectively discharge its duties as an ‘integrity institution’.
The plea was filed by NGO Common Cause through advocate Prashant Bhushan. A bench comprising Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Abhay S. Oka issued notice on the plea.
The plea submitted that anticipating a vacancy that was due to arise in October of 2020, vide advertisement July 17, 2020, the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT), had invited applications for filling the post of one vigilance commissioner with the last date of application being August 17, 2020, however, till date no appointments have been made pursuant thereto.
It further added that similarly, anticipating vacancy that was due to arise in June 2021, vide advertisement issued on May 4, 2021, DoPT had invited applications for filing the post of the Central Vigilance Commissioner with the last date of application being June 7, 2021, however, no appointment has been made pursuant to this advertisement as of date either.
The petitioner argued that the apex court in the 2011 judgement, Centre for PIL v. Union of India, had issued directions to ensure transparency and integrity in the process of appointment of CVC members.
The plea contended that the Central government has failed to fill the long standing vacancies in time; but moreover, in wilful disobedience of the top court’s direction that the selection committee should adopt “a fair and transparent process”, the respondents have vide RTI replies dated September 22, 2021 outrightly refused to give absolutely any information with respect to the appointment process that has been set in motion months ago.
“Non-appointment of the Commissioners for extended periods of time and thereafter frustration of the citizenry’s right to information so as to be able to demand accountability from the executive is in violation of rights guaranteed by Articles 14, 19, & 21 of the Constitution of India apart from the scheme and object of the act of 2003,” added the plea.
The plea said, “This court in Anjali Bhardwaj v. Union of India, (2019) relating to appointments to the Central Information Commission and the State Information Commissions has been pleased to direct that even while the selection process is underway, all relevant information pertaining to the selection must be put in the public domain.”
The plea sought a direction to the Central government to take urgent steps to appoint the vigilance commissioner and the Central Vigilance Commissioner in pursuance of the advertisements issued in July 2020 and May 2021 respectively.