M A I N   N E W S

CVC refuses to quit, awaits SC verdict
Reluctant to give up immunity
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 28
Despite pressure from the government and repeated questioning by the Supreme Court over his appointment, Central Vigilance Commissioner P J Thomas has dug in his heels and decided not to quit, at least till the time Supreme Court delivers its verdict, which is expected next week.

Sources said the CVC refused to quit today. This is second time in two months that Thomas refused to quit. The sources confirmed that the government had told Thomas that he would be rehabilitated if he would quit, but he refused the offer, saying that “resigning at this stage will leave him tainted.”

The sources maintain that Thomas knows that if he resigns, he will “lose all immunity”— which he enjoys now by virtue of being a government official — in the palmolein import case pending against him in Kerala. In case he resigns, he will be a private citizen and the courts in Kerala will not have to wait for permission to prosecute him.

Thomas was appointed as CVC on September 7 despite a written dissent from Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, who is also a member of the selection committee for the appointment of a CVC. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram are the other two members of the committee.

The government is keen that the CVC resigns before Sushma Swaraj moves an affidavit in the Supreme Court. She is expected to counter the government’s claims that the file pertaining to the crucial information about the pending chargesheet against Thomas in the palmolein case was not put up before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Home Minister.

An already beleaguered UPA regime, the sources say, has three options before it in the CVC case.

First, the Supreme Court would itself quash his appointment. That is the best and shortest possible ‘face-saving’ action, said a senior official.

The second option is that Thomas resigns, which looks unlikely. The last option is to initiate a long and tedious impeachment process through Parliament. As it goes for the judges, the CVC too cannot be dismissed or sacked by the government. The sources revealed that it was unlikely that the government would initiate President’s action as Thomas had done nothing wrong as the CVC.

Officials close to Thomas say that feels that he has become a “victim of political fight” between the government and the Opposition and has little role in this ongoing tussle.

Thomas’ appointment has come under severe criticism from the BJP and he is facing adverse oral observations from the Supreme Court. Currently, the request for the sanction of prosecution of Thomas in the palmolein case is pending for 11 years with the Department of Personnel and Training.

A section among the officialdom believes that Thomas was not at fault as he had never asked for the post of CVC and still had a year’s tenure as Secretary to the Government of India when he resigned. A few weeks ago, the IAS officers association of Kerala had backed him. The Congress core group presided by Sonia Gandhi was expected to take call on the next move to control the damage. The meeting, however, could not be conducted tonight. 



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