SC rejects plea against watchdog appointment

The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a plea by the former navy chief, Admiral (Retd) L. Ramdas, and others challenging the appointment of 1979-batch IPS officer Sharad Kumar as vigilance commissioner, saying the petitioners were not the aggrieved persons.

  • Published 11.09.18
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The Supreme Court. Picture by Prem Singh

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a plea by the former navy chief, Admiral (Retd) L. Ramdas, and others challenging the appointment of 1979-batch IPS officer Sharad Kumar as vigilance commissioner, saying the petitioners were not the aggrieved persons.

A bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi said the petitioners could not come to the court on behalf of those who may have been affected by Kumar's appointment to the Central Vigilance Commission, the probity watchdog.

"Let the aggrieved persons come. If nobody is aggrieved, why should we hear you?" the bench, which included Justices Navin Sinha and K.M. Joseph, told advocate Prashant Bhushan who was representing the petitioners.

Bhushan told the court that the advertisement for the post had said that only those below the age of 62 as on January 1, 2018, could apply, and that Kumar did not satisfy this criterion. He said there were "many others" who could not apply because of the age bar, prompting the bench to reply: "Those many others have not come before us. You cannot come on their behalf."

When Bhushan termed the appointment of Kumar "arbitrary and discriminatory", the bench observed: "If somebody who could not apply due to this and says there is violation of Article 14 (equality before law), we can hear him." It added: "It is not your case that the advertisement is per se contrary to the statute. If somebody whose life has been invaded upon comes to us, we will hear him. The PIL is for those who cannot afford to come (to the court). You cannot espouse the cause of somebody else."

Bhushan replied that there were many aggrieved people who could not come to the court as they were "under a fear" that the government might victimise them.

"Let us assure them that there is no fear. We are here to take care of it," Justice Gogoi said.

Kumar had retired in September last year after heading the National Investigation Agency for over four years. On June 10 this year, he was appointed a vigilance commissioner for a term of four years or till he turned 65, whichever was earlier.

Kumar's tenure is therefore to end in October 2020. The commission has a central vigilance commissioner and two vigilance commissioners. K.V. Chowdary is now the central vigilance commissioner and T.M. Bhasin the other vigilance commissioner. PTI

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