The Centre on Monday strongly defended the appointment of controversial bureaucrat P J Thomas as the central vigilance commissioner, saying he was an 'outstanding officer' with 'impeccable integrity'.
In an affidavit in the Supreme Court cleared by Attorney General G E Vahanvati, the government also said there was no need for 'consensus' of the three-member high powered committee on CVC's appointment.
While Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram had approved his appointment, Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj, who was the third member of the panel, opposed the same on account of Thomas's 'tainted' image.
The affidavit said no statutory norms were violated in the appointment of Thomas and his suitability for the post should not be decided by the apex court.
"It is well settled that a question of suitability should be left to the wisdom of the appointing authority. Suitability cannot be questioned by the court and the suitability should be left to the wisdom of the appointing authority," he said.
The apex court, which had earlier examined the file relating to Thomas' appointment as CVC, sought the explanation, issued him notices along with the Centre on various petitions which contended that he did not fulfil the criteria for holding such an important and sensitive post.
"We have gone through the file. We will keep the matter for final hearing," the bench also comprising justices K S Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar had said while posting the matter for hearing on January 27.
"Let them file their affidavit," the bench said, while also asking them to complete the process of filing replies, counter replies and other written submissions by the next date of hearing.
Subsequently, Thomas gave an undertaking to the Supreme Court that he would not supervise the CBI's investigations into the 2G spectrum scam. The petitions have contended that Thomas was considered for the crucial post despite objections from the Leader of the Opposition.
The petitioners have sought the court's direction to declare Thomas' appointment as illegal, contending that there was violation of Section 4 of the CVC Act, as the prime minister and the home minister insisted on his name despite objection by the Leader of the Opposition, which shows the government had decided in advance to appoint him.
"The prime minister and the home minister recommended the name of Thomas for selection despite the fact that the Leader of the Opposition objected to his name being selected. So, the Leader of Opposition was forced to record her dissent. Hence, her presence was rendered meaningless in the appointment," the petition alleged.