Describing as an "error of judgement" the appointment of P.J.Thomas as the Central Vigilance Commissioner, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday said he accepted "full responsibility" for it.
"We accept and respect the verdict of the Supreme Court. The government will take into consideration the guidelines/directions given by the Court while appointing a new CVC," he told the Lok Sabha even as the Left parties expressed dissatisfaction over Dr. Singh’s statement on the matter and staged a walkout.
But, the Prime Minister’s admission of the "error of judgement" came only after the Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj said she was "surprised" that the Prime Minister had not said even what he had stated in Jammu about owning up responsibility for the CVC appointment.
"I expected you to repeat at least what you said in Jammu," she said adding that the statement made inside the House was different from what he had said at the press conference in Jammu last week.
Responding to this, the Prime Minister said: "I have no hesitation in repeating what I said in Jammu. Obviously, there was an error of judgement. I accept full responsibility for it."
"I had immediately responded after that statement. I had said that the matter should end now. But I am surprised that you did not say here even one of those things which you said outside. You should say in the House whatever you said outside," Ms. Swaraj said.
There was a loud protest from the Opposition as soon as Dr. Singh sat down after after his suo motu statement which made no mention about responsibility and contained only the sequence of events beginning from the appointment of Mr. Thomas as Central Vigilance Commissioner and its annulment by the Supreme Court.
Reading out the statement, Dr. Singh said that the meeting of the committee comprising the Prime Minister, the Home Minister and Leader of the Opposition to choose the CVC took place on September 3 last year and recommended the name of Mr. Thomas for the post. He pointed out that the Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj gave a dissenting note.
In pursuance of the recommendations made by the committee, the President appointed Mr. Thomas as the CVC and he was sworn in on September 7 last year, a day before the term of the then CVC Pratyush Sinha ended.
After Mr. Thomas' appointment, two public interest litigation petitions were filed in the Supreme Court challenging the appointment and the court quashed it, he said.
Not satisfied with the statement, Basudeb Acharia (CPI-M) wanted to know how it (error of judgement) had happened. Finally, the Left members staged a walkout.