Friday, March 4, 2011

CVC PJ Thomas steps down

Prabhakar Mishra

New Delhi After Supreme Court verdict Chief Vigilance Commissioner P J Tthomas has decided to quit his post.Earlier, the Supreme court strikes down the appointment of CVC P J Thomas. Pronouncing the judgement here on Thursday, argues that there is no merit in government argument.It may be recalled that  former bureaucrat PJ Thomas was  facing a corruption case in Kerala, as Central Vigilance Commissioner.

 "We declare that the recommendation made by the high-powered committee is non-est in law. Which means that the recommendations made on September 3, 2010 does not exist in law. Consequently, the appointment of Thomas goes," a bench comprising Chief Justice S H Kapadia and justices K S Radhakrishnan and Swantatntra Kumar said.

The bench severely criticised the committee for not considering the relevant material including the pending criminal case against Thomas in the Palmolein import case and the recommendations of the DoPT between 2000-04 for initiating disciplinary proceedings against him.

Earlier, a bench of Chief Justice SH Kapadia and JusticesKS Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar had reserved its judgment on February 10.

The PIL filed by an NGO, Center for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) and retired bureacrats and police officials, including former Chief Election Commissioner JM Lyngdoh, had challenged Thomas` appointment to the post in view of a pending criminal case against him in a Kerala court.

Thomas was appointed CVC on September 7 last year.

Thomas has contested the PIL contending that he was appointed to the post in view of the vigilance clearance given to him before his appointment as Secretary in the union government.

Further, the embattled CVC had said the corruption case pending against him in the Kerala Court was a result of political rivalry between former chief minister K Karunakaran and present chief minister VS Achuthanandan.

The petitioners have contended Thomas cannot be considered as a person of "impeccable integrity" as a chargesheet was filed against him in palmolein import scam when he was a secretary in the Keralaministry of food and civil supplies. He had secured bail from a local court.

The petitioners have also alleged he was appointed despite strong objections from Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj who was a member of the 3-member panel headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The other member of the panel is Home Minister P Chidambaram.

The petitioners also said he could not be appointed CVC on account of "conflict of interest" as till recently he was serving as telecom secretary and that there was the allegation that he was involved in an alleged "cover-up" of 2G spectrum scam.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had in its report said the loss to the exchequer as a result of sale of spectrum licences to certain companies at undervalued prices was to the tune of Rs 1.76 lakh.


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