Govt admits: Knew about case against CVC Thomas but (still) appointed him

The selection committee meeting to choose the central vigilance commissioner in September last year did discuss the Palmolein case against P J Thomas, Home Minister P Chidambaram said on Monday but parried a question whether a "chargesheeted" person should have been appointed.

Addressing a press conference, he was happy to agree with the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj that the committee discussed the issue of a pending case against Thomas before he was named the CVC.

"We did discuss the names of the panel. In fact, the bulk of the time (of discussion) was regarding P J Thomas and the Palmolein case. She (Swaraj) made her points, the other members (the Prime Minister and the Home Minister) of the committee made their points."

"It was brought to the notice of the committee during the discussion that although the case was registered, no sanction of prosecution was granted by the NDA government from December 1999 to May 2004 and by the UPA government subsequently," Chidambaram said.

When the trial of the case was stayed by the Supreme Court between 2007 and 2008, the Central Vigilance Commission had held that no case was made against Thomas and Jiji Thompson, another IAS official. Then Thomas was granted vigilance clearance (for appointment as secretary in the government), he said.

"There could not have been a discussion for several minutes without bringing these facts before the committee. There could not have been a disagreement without a discussion," the Home Minister said.

Citing a statement of the Attorney General that when the apex court had put a specific question whether papers and files relating to the case against Thomas were "circulated" during the meeting on September 3, the AG had said: "I had said the papers and files were not circulated."

"It was never stated (by the AG) that there was no discussion on the case against Thomas," Chidambaram said quoting the Attorney General.

... contd.

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