Allegations against Central Vigilance Commissioner P.J. Thomas were discussed at the meeting of the selection committee headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that recommended his appointment by a majority decision, home minister P. Chidambaram said on Monday.
"We did discuss the names of the panel. In fact, the bulk of the time (of discussion) was regarding PJ Thomas and Palmolein case. She (Swaraj) made her points, the other members (PM and HM) of the committee made their points.
"It was brought to the notice of the committee during the discussion that although the case was registered, no sanction of prosecution was granted by the NDA government from December 1999 to May, 2004 and by the UPA government subsequently," Chidambaram said at the press meet to present his ministry's monthly report.
"There could not have been a discussion for several minutes without bringing these facts before the committee. There could not have been a disagreement without a discussion," the minister said.
His clarification ends confusion that started with attorney general G Vahanvati's submissions in the Supreme Court last week. Vahanvati had submitted that material pertaining to the chargesheet and sanction for Thomas' prosecution was not placed before the panel.
Vahanvati meant details of the case against Thomas were not circulated. But it interpreted to mean the selection panel was not aware of the details, prompting Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj to declare his intention to file an affidavit to call the government's bluff.
Swaraj - responding to the home minister's statement -told reporters in Kochi that she was "very happy" that the home minister has agreed. "The CVC has to be impeccable person."
Cong ready with counter-attack plan
Under fire on the CVC issue, the Congress is planning a counter-attack on the BJP. The party is going to take on the BJP over the appointment of Prabhat Kumar as the cabinet secretary by the NDA government in 1998.
Kumar, a 1963 batch IAS officer of the UP cadre, was among the 68 people named by the Liberhan Commission for leading the country to the brink of communal discord in the wake of the Babri Masjid demolition. He was then serving as the home secretary in UP.