Not aware of any case against Thomas till Sushma Swaraj raised it at meeting
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday blamed his then junior Minister and present Maharashtra Chief 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.”
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.
Faced with a sustained grilling by Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley and others over why action was not taken against the persons who did not mention Mr. Thomas' involvement in a graft case, the Prime Minister took responsibility for the lapse.
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.”
Left members were not satisfied with the reply and staged a walkout.
Others who sought clarifications were senior CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury and D. Raja (CPI).