PJ Thomas on Thursday stepped down as chief of India's anti-corruption watchdog, the central vigilance commission, after the Supreme Court quashed his appointment, law minister M Veerappa Moily said on Thursday and added that the government would respect the decision.
"He (Thomas) has already resigned," Moily told reporters after the apex court struck down his appointment for his alleged involvement in a corruption case. Thomas had taken over as central vigilance commissioner (CVC) six months ago.
Moily said the government would respect the Supreme Court order. "The question is that many a times executive orders are challenged by the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court has issued the order. I don't think you must read a lot into it. We have to proceed with the order."
He denied that the order had left the government red faced. The appointment was made in September 2010 by a high-powered committee consisting of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and home minister P Chidambaram. Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj, who is also part of the committee, had vetoed Thomas' appointment.
"At this point of time we cannot say (what) it is for and against. I don't think so. We will look into the judgment and we would come out with a representation (if needed)," the law minister said, adding that the central vigilance commission had also cleared the appointment of Thomas.
While striking down Thomas' appointment, an apex court bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia Thursday said institutional integrity and functioning were more important than personal integrity, though both are related.
Thomas was Kerala's civil supplies secretary in 1992 when the palm oil scam allegedly involving him took place. The palm oil case was registered in 1999, accusing Thomas and others of a criminal conspiracy and causing a loss of Rs.2.32 crore to the state exchequer.