The government has cleared the appointment of telecommunication secretary P J Thomas, a 1973-batch Kerala cadre, as the next Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC). Thomas will succeed Prityush Sinha, who retires on Tuesday.
Thomas's name was finalised by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram at a meeting with Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj, where the two overruled her objection to his candidature.
Swaraj pointed out that a person with an "unblemished" record should be chosen. She said Thomas's name had figured in a vigilance inquiry and in a probe into a palm oil import scandal during his tenure as Kerala food secretary.
Chidambaram, however, said Thomas had been cleared in the probe. Also, his name was included in the shortlist only after consulting the law ministry and the attorney general, both of whom had cleared his name in the oil import scandal.
Chidambaram also did not agree with Swaraj's contention about Thomas's position vis-à-vis the 2G Spectrum controversy — he had seen CVC reports on the 2G scam and his appointment at the highest position might derail the justice process.
Thomas had joined the telecom ministry only last October and "as such, there will be no conflict of interest", Chidambaram said.
Swaraj told HT that she had told the PM that she would back any choice of the government other than Thomas.
The other two names were chemicals secretary Bijoy Chatterjee, a 1979-batch West Bengal cadre officer, and S Krishnan, who retired as fertiliser secretary four days ago. He belongs to the 1975 Uttaranchal cadre.