Home minister P. Chidambaram on Wednesday denied that he “misled” the selection committee that selected PJ Thomas as central vigilance commissioner last year, blaming opposition leader Sushma Swaraj for tying herself in knots by levelling “thoughtless allegations.”
Chidambaram said he never told the panel—the Prime Minister and Swaraj were the other two members — that Thomas had been “acquitted” in the palmolein case. “Actually, Swaraj is tying herself in knots by making thoughtless allegations”.
“I take exception to the statement by Swaraj that I ‘misled the selection committee’ and told the committee that Thomas had been 'acquitted',” the home minister said in a written rejoinder to the leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha.
"Firstly, if no sanction for prosecution had been granted since 1999 against Thomas (as admitted by her), how could the case have proceeded to trial or ended in an acquittal of Thomas?" Chidambaram asked.
"Secondly, if the Supreme Court had stayed the trial
of the case (as admitted by her), is it not self-evident that the case was pending and nobody could have been either acquitted or convicted?" he added.
Chidambaram reiterated that the panel was aware of the palmolein case; that no sanction for prosecution of Thomas had been granted since 1999.
Responding to his statement, Swaraj termed as an “after thought” the minister’s statement that he had not misled the CVC selection panel and his contention that she was making “thoughtless allegations”.
“I have seen that (Chidambaram's) statement. I have to only say that if he knew the case was pending it was the primary duty of the government to apprise the selection committee of that. They did not do that,” she said. "All that he is saying are after thought... These facts are absolutely irrelevant.”
She said, "The first thing which he committed was that he concealed this information ... It was I who brought this to the committee that there was a case and then he (Chidambaram) said he (PJ Thomas) was acquitted.” (With PTI inputs)