Centre gets a dose of its own medicine about transparency

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Supreme Court of India

It was only a few days back when the collegium system for appointment of judges was scrapped by the central government citing lack of transparency. Fast forward a little, and now the government is getting a taste of its own medicine after being thrashed by the Supreme Court for the “in-house” selection of the panel that appoints the Central Vigilance Commissioner.

According to the apex court, the “in-house” mode of selection is vulnerable to nepotism and could keep deserving talents out.

The problem is that every system which is confined to in-house procedure for appointments, the criticism has all along been about lack of transparency. If transparency is the hallmark of the selection process and if an existing system is criticised on this ground, why should it not be followed by you?” a bench led by Chief Justice R M Lodha observed.

The bench further added by saying: “India is a country with a huge pool of talent. The public now demands transparency. Sunlight is not reaching a common man residing in one remote corner of the country like this. Why do you deprive him of the sunlight? How will an extremely talented man become visible without the sunlight?”

The court was adjudicating a PIL filed by Center for Integrity, Governance and Training in Vigilance Administration, an NGO. Raising questions on the way the government intended to appoint the CVC through a non-transparent manner, the NGO had appealed the judiciary to intervene on the way the matter was being handled.

In the PIL, the NGO cited the July 21 letter issued by the Secretary, Department of Personnel and Training to all other Secretaries in the government asking them to recommend names for the post. The plea pointed out how that method would allow only bureaucrats to be considered for the post.

The government assured the court that it would not take any hasty decision on the matter until the questions being raised are resolved.