Pressure mounts on CVC Thomas to quit; SC questions his tenability

The court pointed out that since the CBI functions under the supervision of the CVC it would be difficult for Thomas to be objective.

Updated: Dec 01, 2010, 00:39 AM IST

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday
virtually questioned the tenability of Chief Vigilance
Commissioner P J Thomas supervising the CBI`s investigations
into the 2G spectrum scandal as he himself was Telecom
Secretary at the relevant point of time.

A bench of justices G S Singhvi and Ashok Kumar Ganguly
pointed out that since the CBI functions under the over all
supervision of the CVC it would be difficult for Thomas to
objectively monitor the investigations.

"CBI is functioning under the CVC, at that time
he(Thomas) was functioning as Telecom Secretary. It would be
difficult for him to objectively monitor."

"He had justified the action which are being subject
to scrutiny by this court and CBI. It would be difficult for
him to objectively supervise." the bench observed.

Meanwhile, the government has told the court that it has no objection to the court monitoring the CBI probe into the entire case.

"(The) government has no objection to the court monitoring of the investigation as the government wants to establish its credentials," Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam told the court.

This move from the government comes even as the opposition in the Parliament is refusing to budge from its demand for a JPC probe into the alleged scam.

Clearly, the UPA government is embarrassed over the entire episode and, as per reports, may lead to Thomas putting in his papers.

This is not the first time that the apex court has questioned his appointment; last week the SC had expressed its apprehensions on the appointment of Thomas as CVC as his name had appeared in a corruption case. The court had asked the government to explain how a chargesheeted official was appointed to such an important post.

Since then, the officials of the UPA government have relentlessly launched efforts to persuade Thomas to resign voluntarily in a bid to save the ruling disposition from further embarrassment.

In view of rising pressure, Thomas Monday met Home Minister P Chidambaram for further consultations. He may quit any day now, sources present at the meeting said.

However, Chidambaram today refused to make any
comments on Thomas and sought to downplay the meeting between
the two. "What is a detailed meeting. A number of people
meet me," he said when reporters asked him about Thomas
meeting him yesterday.

"I made no no suggestion. I received no no offer,"
was his reply when asked whether the CVC had made any offer to
quit.

Chidambaram was part of the three-member committee that selected Thomas while BJP’s Sushma Swaraj rejected his appointment. Thomas was appointed CVC this September after spending a year in the DoT. Thomas’s role at the DoT came under heavy criticism for a variety of reasons.

As per reports, Thomas neither took action against officials who allowed ineligible firms to get spectrum nor levy penalties on firms who did not fulfil rollout norms. Thomas later wrote to CAG that it had no locus standi to examine what he called ‘policy issues’.

Congress meanwhile declined to comment."In the course of a hearing, the honourable court makes different observations to elicit best point of view from rival parties. It is axiomatic that such points are not used for comments. The court speaks through written order," Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi said here.

He said queries pertaining to Thomas should be directed at the union home ministry.

Another Congress leader said on the condition of anonymity that the court`s observations were an "embarrassment" to the government.

He said that though Thomas had the qualification to be the CVC, the post demanded that the incumbent was also seen to be completely above board.

-Agencies inputs