As PJ Thomas prepares to respond to a petition challenging his appointment as Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC), the Kerala government on Thursday moved the Supreme Court seeking resumption of trial in the 20-year-old Palmolein import case in which he is an accused.
In an application filed in the SC through its counsel R Sathish, the LDF-led Kerala government requested the court to lift the August 3, 2007 order staying the proceedings in the case pending before a designated CBI court in Kerala. The stay was granted on a petition filed by former chief minister K Karunakaran, a co-accused in the case, against a Kerala HC order clearing the way for trial.
The application comes at a time when Thomas is in the eye of a storm over his appointment as CVC despite being an accused in the 1991 Palmolein import scam case and his alleged role as telecom in covering up the R1.76 lakh crore 2G-spectrum allocation scam.
If the SC vacates the stay on the trial, it would make Thomas’s position as the head of anti-corruption watchdog untenable for he supervises the work of the CBI that would be prosecuting him.
The Kerala government said Karunakaran's appeal against the HC order has been figuring in the apex court's business list since July 2010 but never came up for hearing and due to the stay order the trial court had been adjourning it since 2007.
Thomas has already recused himself from the 2G scam after a SC bench headed by justice GS Singhvi questioned his ability and credibility to supervise the CBI probe into the case.
Another bench headed by CJI SH Kapadia too had made certain stinging remarks against him during hearing of petition challenging Thomas’s appointment as CVC.
A 1973 batch IAS officer, Thomas was appointed as head of the anti-corruption watchdog on September 7, 2010 ignoring the objections raised by leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj.