I was not aware of corruption case against Thomas: PM
Singh told the Rajya Sabha that he was not aware of a chargesheet against Thomas till the meeting of selection committee on September 3 last year and that he gave his approval, as he believed the vigilance clearance would have been obtained as Thomas had earlier served as Kerala chief secretary and secretary in the central government.
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Image: P J Thomas
'Learnt about the Palmolein case from Sushma Swaraj'
At the same time, Singh owned "accountability" and responsibility for the "error of judgment" in appointment of Thomas which has since been struck down by the Supreme Court.
Responding to clarifications sought by Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley and Left members after his suo motu statement, Singh said, "Until I went to the meeting of the committee, I was not aware there was any such case of Palmolein and that would involve corruption."
Dr Singh said he became "aware of this case only when the honourable Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj raised the issue in the meeting itself."
Image: Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj
Prithviraj Chavan to be blamed for CVC fiasco?
Pointing out that the notes for such committees are prepared "under the guidance of minister of state in charge of the DoPT (Ministry Of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions)," the prime minister said.
"The honest answer is that the note which was prepared by the DoPT did not contain this information about the chargesheet," he said.
Chavan, who is now Maharashtra chief minister, was the MoS in charge of DoPT at the time of Thomas' selection by the committee headed by the prime minister and comprising the home minister and leader of the Opposition.
Image: Prithviraj Chavan
Why Dr Singh approved Thomas' name
Explaining why he still gave his approval to Thomas' name, Singh said, "Since the gentleman was appointed chief secretary, government of Kerala and that he was appointed as secretary to two departments of the government of India, I thought vigilance matters must have been looked into and therefore we went ahead with the selection process."
Singh, who made such a statement on the CVC fiasco in the Lok Sabha on Monday, reiterated that the selection was an "error of judgment" and he took full responsibility for it.
Left members were not satisfied with the reply and staged a walkout.
Image: Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh