The 18-year-old palm oil import scam has returned to haunt Chief Vigilance Commissioner P.J. Thomas, as the case will come up before the Thiruvananthapuram vigilance court on Saturday.
Contrary to the Centre’s claim that he had been exonerated in the case, a probe by HT under the RTI Act revealed that the charge sheets against none of the eight accused had ever been quashed.
Thomas, a 1973 batch IAS officer of the Kerala cadre, appeared before the court on April 2, 2003 and obtained bail, but had never been exonerated.
So, the head of the Central Vigilance Commission, an apex body created in 1964 to track corruption in government departments, is technically still an accused in the case.
On the day HT published this report, the opposition BJP launched a sharp attack. “It only confirms the suspicion we had and makes it clear that someone about whom questions remain to be answered should not occupy this key position.”
BJP national spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said, “Sushma ji (Opposition leader in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj) had raised concerns with the government, but it has been stubborn on having him as the CVC.”
Thomas could not be contacted in Delhi for comments for the second consecutive day. His aides said he would not like to say anything.
In Thiruvananthapuram, although Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan’s office was also tight-lipped, R. Satheesh, the state’s standing counsel handling the case, said, “The RTI reply shows that a case is pending. Nobody has been exonerated.”