Wiser after the controversy over PJ Thomas’ appointment as the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) last year, the government has made it mandatory for officers to declare if they face criminal or disciplinary charges before they can be appointed at the Centre.
The government has devised a form for vigilance clearance that specifically requires officers to state if they have any disciplinary or criminal proceedings or a chargesheet pending against them.
The form is targeted to ensure that the Central Vigilance Commission — which grants vigilance clearance before All India Service officers are empanelled to hold senior positions at the centre — does not miss out on crucial facts that may be uncomfortable for an officer concerned.
The change has been made on the advice of the CVC headed by Pradeep Kumar, who was appointed to the anti-graft watchdog body after the supreme court sacked his predecessor, PJ Thomas.
The SC had struck down retired Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, PJ Thomas’, appointment as Central Vigilance Commissioner this March on grounds that the high-level panel that recommended his name did not consider the pending chargesheet in the palmolein import case.
A chargesheet filed in a Kerala court named Thomas as an accused in the palmolein import scandal more than a decade earlier.
But the Central Vigilance Commission — which had earlier given him vigilance clearance to enable the IAS officer to join the centre as a secretary — made it clear that there was nothing on its records about Thomas facing trial in the palmolein case.
In fact, Thomas’ official bio-data put up on the CVC website during his short stint at the helm of affairs at the commission had conveniently skipped mentioning his tenure as Kerala food secretary, the post that he held
when palmolein scandal took place.
“The new format will ensure that such cases do not reoccur,” a government official said, adding that it required state governments to inform the centre if there were doubts on the integrity of the officer concerned.
The new guidelines also require the centre to be told not just the outcome of any inquiries that the officer may have faced, but also the allegations.