[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Supreme Court of India has upheld the appointments of K V Chowdary as the Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) and T M Bhasin as the Vigilance Commissioner (VC), while dismissing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Common Cause, a registered NGO that was represented by Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan. The PIL was filed in 2015, seeking the quashing of the two appointments — that of the CVC and the VC — on the ground of lack of “impeccable and institutional integrity”, as laid down in the landmark judgments of the Supreme Court in Vineet Narain case and the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) case.
Supreme Court upholds appointment of K V Chowdary as Chief Vigilance Commissioner, and T M Bhasin as Vigilance Commissioner.
— The Leaflet (@TheLeaflet_in) July 2, 2018
Earlier, the court had reserved the judgment on September 7, 2017 after hearing the counsel for petitioner — Advocate Prashant Bhushan, and the Attorney General who appeared on behalf of the Union of India. Justice Arun Mishra read out the operative order today, July 2, 2018, stating that “no ground for interference in the appointments” was made out. The matter was heard by a bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and Mohan M Shantanagoudar.
Allegations against K V Chowdary and T M Bhasin
Before his appointment as the CVC, Chowdary was chairperson of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT). It was averred in the petition by Common Cause that the entry register kept at the official residence of the then CBI Director Ranjit Sinha showed that Chowdary met Sinha multiple times at the latter’s residence. And these meetings were held at a time when K V Chowdary was probing the dealings of and intercepted conversations of the alleged hawala dealer Moin Qureshi. The petition had said that Qureshi was known to the former CBI director Sinha and had allegedly met him close to 90 times at his residence as per the entry register.
These meetings also happened when the then CBI director Sinha was investigating the alleged “Stockguru Scam” where senior income tax officers were involved, and the name of KV Chowdary had featured multiple times, the petition said. Detailed report by CBI investigation on this scam revealed that senior income tax officers had taken bribes for showing favour to scamsters and had also misappropriated over Rs 40 crores. The income tax officers who were involved were working directly under Chowdary on this very case, and therefore, Chowdary was the subject matter of the investigation by CBI.
However, ultimately the Income Tax Department in its appraisal report of Moin Qureshi gave a clean chit to the then director Ranjit Sinha, while, correspondingly, the CBI returned the favour by giving K V Chowdary a similar clean chit in the alleged Stockguru Scam.
Moreover, T M Bhasin, whose appointment too has been upheld by the apex court, had served as the CMD of the Indian Bank. Bhasin was indicted in a detailed inquiry by the Central Vigilance Commission in 2013 for forging and tampering with appraisal report of the then General Manager of the Indian Bank, which was a criminal offence, claimed the petition by Common Cause.