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Feather in cap for graft fighters

New Delhi, March 3: The Supreme Court verdict against P.J. Thomas’s appointment is not the lone feather in the cap of the petitioner, the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), but perhaps the most visible one.

The Delhi-based group, a loose collection of activists and lawyers whose aim is to fight corruption, had its previous big hurrah in 2003. That was when it got the apex court to restrain the Centre from divesting majority shares in Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum without Parliament’s approval.

In the 2G allotment case filed by the group, the Supreme Court has already ordered a CBI probe.

Another public interest litigation (PIL), filed by group member and senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani, asks that the government be directed to recover Indian black money stashed in foreign banks.

“Our organisation is devoted to taking up PILs in a systematic, professional and organised manner. We file them on our own or if we are requested to by someone else,” said lawyer and group member Prashant Bhushan.

The CPIL was founded in the late 1980s by Justice V.M. Tarkunde, who also co-founded the People’s Union for Civil Liberties. Among its members are lawyers Shanti Bhushan, Prashant Bhushan, Kamini Jaiswal, Ram Jethmalani, Anand Divan and Anil Divan.

The CVC case has a special resonance for the group. Anil Divan said he had assisted the apex court in the Jain hawala case, when guidelines relating to the commission were first laid down.

“The Vajpayee government tried to water them down and exclude all non-IAS officers from becoming CVC,” Divan said, recalling the long battle that led to the commission being granted statutory status.

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