CVC fiasco: PM’s statement in Parliament incorrect, says Yechury

March 11th, 2011 - 8:49 pm ICT by ANI  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Mar 11 (ANI): Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) politburo member Sitaram Yechury on Friday slammed Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh’s statement in which he charged the then-Kerala Government with not informing him of cases pending against former Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) P. J. Thomas.
Expressing his astonishment that the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT)did not have background knowledge of its officers, Yechury said the Kerala Government had also cited a letter informing the Centre about pending cases against Thomas.

“When the Prime Minister made the statement in Rajya Sabha - saying that ’since the Kerala Government made Mr. Thomas the chief secretary’, so he presumed that the vigilance clearance was there. At that time, if you recollect, I protested and walked out of the House saying we disagreed with that statement,” said Yechury.

“Subsequently, the facts have now come out, where the Kerala government in early part of 2008 (had) written to the DoPT saying that they are not willing to consider the case of deputation of Thomas to the central government because of a pending vigilance case and this pending Palmolein (oil) case. So it is absolutely incorrect to state that this Kerala government had not informed the Centre about this case,” he added.

The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, on Tuesday blamed his then junior Minister Prithviraj Chavan for omitting to mention the charge-sheeting of P.J. Thomas in the file put up to the three-member panel, headed by Dr. Singh himself, to consider the official’s suitability for the post of Central Vigilance Commissioner.

The Prime Minister also admitted to a lapse of judgment on his part.

“Until I went to the meeting, I was not aware that there was any such case, that too involving corruption till Leader of the Opposition [Lok Sabha] Sushma Swaraj raised it at the selection meeting,” he said.

Dr. Singh told the Rajya Sabha that he approved the appointment because he felt the official must have been cleared of the charges as he had then taken up two senior-level appointments - Chief Secretary of Kerala and Union Telecom Secretary.

Pointing out that the files for such selections were prepared under the guidance of Minister of State in charge of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), Dr. Singh said: “The honest answer is that the note which was prepared by the DoPT…did not contain this information about charge sheet.”

“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,” he added.

Chavan had said that Thomas was cleared for Central deputation by the Kerala Government after the Prime Minister claimed that then Minister of State of Department of Personnel and Training (Chavan) for not mentioning that Thomas had been charge sheeted in the palmolein case.

Thomas, who is facing a corruption case in a Kerala court, handed over his resignation to the government last Thursday after the Supreme Court struck down his appointment as the CVC.

A three-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice of India S.H. Kapadia delivered its verdict on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) that sought removal of Thomas from the position of CVC.

The apex court, which had on February 10 reserved its on petitions challenging the appointment of Thomas, said that the appointment was illegal and that he must go.

The Centre for Public Interest Litigation, an NGO and others had earlier challenged Thomas’s appointment as the CVC, quoting the Palmolein import corruption case in which Thomas is an accused. (ANI)

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