New Delhi: The controversy over CVC PJ Thomas appeared to be headed for a showdown with Home Minister P Chidambaram taking on Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj over her claims that the government is not speaking the truth over the issue.
“I take exception to the statement made by Sushma Swaraj on CVC”, Chidambaram said, adding the government didn’t mislead the selection panel on Thomas.
Swaraj had alleged that the bio-data circulated at the selection panel meeting didn’t mention that Thomas was accused in a corruption case in his home state, Kerala.
Contradicting Swaraj, Chidambaram said that the selection panel was aware of the Palmolein corruption case and that it was discussed during the meeting.
Explaining why the government chose to go ahead with Thomas’ appointment, Chidambaram said the case is still pending and Thomas has neither been convicted nor acquitted. He added that the Supreme Court had stayed the trial of case and the then CVC had granted clearance for Thomas’ appointment to the top post.
Hitting back at the BJP, Chidambaram said the nod for prosecution of Thomas has not been granted since 1999, when the NDA was in power at the Centre.
He further asked Swaraj to respect the rule of sub-judice and let the SC decide the case.
Swaraj had yesterday decided not to file an affidavit in the SC – after promising to do so- to back her claim that she had objected to Thomas’ appointment as the CVC during the selection panel meeting.
Swaraj changed her mind after Chidambaram, Monday; lent credence to her claim by saying the committee had at length discussed Thomas’ involvement in the Palmolein case.
Meanwhile, the CVC has remained defiant. Yesterday, he filed a fresh affidavit in the SC saying that he was a man of "impeccable integrity" and had fulfilled all criteria for appointment to the post after being selected as secretary in the government.
He said among the shortlisted bureaucrats, he was the senior-most and only person who had served as chief secretary, besides having got clearance from the Central Vigilance Commission to be considered for empanelment for appointment as CVC as there was no sanction for his prosecution in the Palmolein import case.
"An impression has been created that my case is a unique one and that I alone suffer some taint against my name. Clearly, it is routine for the officers in discharge of their duties to have cases slapped against them, many of which are trumped-up or politically motivated," said Thomas.
He said, "In an environment where bureaucrats bear the brunt of protests against the governmental actions, it is necessary that an objective view be taken of how the officers function."