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I'm caught in a political battle: CVC Thomas tells SC

January 24, 2011 22:41 IST

Controversial Central Vigilance Commissioner P J Thomas on Monday told the Supreme Court that the corruption charges levelled against him to question his appointment as CVC was a fall out of a political battle in Kerala and that he was a person of "high integrity". He also contended that there was no violation of any norms in his appointment as the CVC and that he had no role in the controversial allocation of 2G spectrum in 2008.

Thomas contended that it was "unfortunate" that he was "caught in the middle of political battle" between the former and present Chief Minister of Kerala -- K Karunakaran and VS Achuthananadan -- and asserted that he maintained the "highest standard of integrity" through out his career as a bureaucrat.

"Grave injustice is done to an officer who has maintained the highest standard of integrity and has unfortunately been dragged into a controversy between two political leaders which has subjected him to severe attacks on his honesty and reputation," he said in an affidavit.

Thomas, who was appointed as CVC on September 7 last year, was issued notices on petitions filed by Centre for Public Interest Litigation, a non-government and some other eminent persons including former Chief Election Commissioner J M Lyngdoh against his appointment.

The CVC, in his affidavit, has taken identical stand like the Centre that no statutory norms were violated in his appointment and the present row on his appointment was a result of a 20-year-old case which was purely based on "political overtones".

"The sword of this prosecution (Palmolein case), which is purely based on political overtones, has been hanging over his head for almost 20 years," he said in a nine-page affidavit giving details of the case which was only challenged in the courts by Karunakaran, who died recently.

"I say, that in my knowledge and belief, there is no violation of CVC Act, 2003 nor was any legal provisions breached and the appointment of deponent was in conformity with the scheme of the CVC Act," Thomas said and objected to the tone and tenor of the petitions which dubbed him as a person of dishonest and dubious nature.

"At the outset, the deponent (Thomas) strongly objects to the use of words dishonest, dubious and suspect when referring to his integrity when there has been no such findings or assertion by a single judicial or administrative

authority. Such statements are patently defamatory and are unfortunately used casually and which get wide publicity in press while the persons holding the high office have perforce, to remain silent while great damage is done to their reputation," the affidavit, settled by senior advocate K K Venugopal on behalf of Thomas, said.

Thomas also brushed aside the allegation that there was a conflict of interest in his appointment as CVC as he was a secretary in Ministry of Telecom when the 2G spectrum scam surfaced saying that he came into the scenario several months after the allocation of spectrum. "As far as the issue of 2G spectrum allocation scam is concerned, it is submitted that he was appointed secretary of the department on January 1, 2009 which was several months after allocation of the spectrum," the affidavit said.

"The court may take all these facts and circumstances into account so that his name may not remain tarnished for ever for no fault of his," Thomas said.

Thomas' response came against the backdrop of a notice issued by a bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia on December 6 last on various petitions challenging his appointment as CVC despite having been issued charge sheet in the Palmolein oil import case in Kerala.

The petitioners argued that Thomas cannot not be considered as a person of "impeccable integrity" as he was issued charge sheet in the Palmolein import scam when he was a secretary in the Kerala ministry of food and civil supplies and had secured bail from the local court. It was also alleged that he was appointed against the procedure despite opposition from Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj who was part of a three-member committee also comprising Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram.

The PILs said he could not be appointed CVC on account of "conflict of interest" as till recently he was serving as secretary in the telecom ministry and there was allegation that he was involved in the "cover-up" of the 2G spectrum scam, which, according to the petitioners, has caused a loss of Rs 70,000 crore to the state exchequer. However, Comptroller and Auditor General in its report has stated that there was a presumptive loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore.

Later, during the hearing of 2G spectrum scam, the government informed that Thomas has recused from supervising the CBI in its investigation in the case.

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