Less than a week after the Supreme Court termed his appointment as chief vigilance commissioner “illegal”, PJ Thomas could be in for more trouble.
The Central Bureau of Investigation is now probing his alleged role in “arm-twisting” telecom operator S-Tel into withdrawing its case against the department of telecommunications (DoT), government sources said.
Since S-Tel missed the bus when former telecom minister A Raja advanced the cut-off date for applying for 2G spectrum, the company dragged the DoT to the Delhi high court.
In July 2009, the firm won the case in the high court, which said advancing the cut-off date for 2G spectrum application to September 25, 2007 from October 1, 2007 was illegal. Again in November 2009, the verdict was upheld by a division bench. It directed the government to give the company pan-India licences.
But on March 5, 2010, three months after the DoT filed an appeal in the Supreme Court, the department withdrew S-Tel’s licences in six circles. Thomas was the DoT secretary when the licences were withdrawn.
Just five days later, S-Tel told the Supreme Court that it was no longer interested in the licences. As a result, while upholding the Delhi high court order, the Supreme Court allowed the department to withdraw its appeal. The following month, DoT allowed S-Tel to restore the services.
“Thomas cleared the file for withdrawing the services to S- Tel and then sent it to then minister A Raja for final approval,” said a DoT official, adding: “The restoration of licence was approved in April.” Despite repeated telephone calls and SMSes, Thomas did not respond to HT’s queries.