President Pratibha Patil administered the oath of office to the former Telecom Secretary, P.J. Thomas, as the 14th Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) at a function held in the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Tuesday.
Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily, Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar and Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah attended the ceremony.
However, the Bharatiya Janata Party boycotted the swearing-in. In the evening, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj met Ms. Patil to explain why she had given a dissent note against Mr. Thomas' appointment.
It is understood that Ms. Swaraj sought an appointment two days ago, hoping that she would be able to persuade the President not to give her assent to the appointment.
A 1973-batch IAS officer of Kerala cadre, Mr. Thomas has held important assignments in Kerala as Secretary in Finance, Industry, Agriculture, Law and Justice and Human Resource Development Departments. He was the founder director of the Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode.
He became the Kerala Chief Secretary in 2007 and moved to the Central government as Secretary in the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs in January, 2009. Later he went on to become the Telecom Secretary.
Mr. Thomas succeeded Pratyush Sinha, a 1969-batch IAS officer of Bihar cadre, who demitted office on Monday after a four-year tenure as the CVC.
His name was cleared by a three-member committee, headed by Dr. Singh and included Mr. Chidambaram and Ms. Swaraj. However the BJP leader opposed his appointment.
The Prime Minister defended Mr. Thomas saying: “We have done the right thing. We have chosen the best candidate out of the list of three.”