New Delhi: Despite the Supreme Court’s adverse observations on the continuation of PJ Thomas as the Central Vigilance Commissioner, the UPA government appears to be in no mood to back out from supporting him and has decided to file an affidavit in this regard.
As per sources Wednesday, the affidavit, to be filed on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s behalf, will support Thomas by pointing out that the CVC has been twice given vigilance clearance, hence there is no case in proceeding with the case against him.
Importantly, the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) in its affidavit filed in the SC, questioning the appointment of Central Vigilance Commissioner PJ Thomas, has argued that persons against whom criminal charges are pending must not be appointed to any sensitive position.
The CPIL brought to the court`s notice a Government of India office memorandum laying down guidelines, and said “promotion of officers against whom a criminal charge sheet is pending is withheld or not granted”.
As per the guidelines, the Departmental Promotion Committee should be informed of government servants under suspension, against whom chargesheets had been issued and criminal charges were still pending.
The CPIL also cited a Supreme Court judgment, which clearly held that persons against whom criminal charges were pending must not be appointed to any sensitive position.
Additionally, the Supreme Court had yesterday cleared the deck for a Kerala court to proceed with the trial in the 10-year-old palmolein oil scam case in which Thomas is an accused along with then chief minister late K Karunakaran which caused a loss of Rs 2.5 crore to the state exchequer.
Thomas is also likely to face probe in connection with the 2G scam probe in which the SC has ordered an investigation into all licences and spectrum granted from 2001 to 2008.
Although, Thomas had taken over as Department of Telecommunications (DoT) secretary in October, 2009, but his tenure would be under scrutiny as the SC has asked the CBI to investigate why DoT did not take action against those licensees who failed to fulfill rollout obligations on time.
Thomas has recused himself from the probe in his capacity as the CVC and had been maintaining that the scam happened before he was took over as the DoT secretary, but it has been alleged that he was brought into the telecom ministry, specifically, to cover up the 2G scam.
Clearly, the way ahead for Thomas is going to tough despite the government’s tactical support - although it came a bit late in the day and that too amid much resistance from within and outside.