Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan lambasted the central government on Monday for appointing Chief Vigilance Commissioner P.J. Thomas, who is an accused in the palm oil import case.
Addressing the media on Monday, Achuthanandan broke his silence on the appointment, saying this had exposed the helplessness and bankruptcy of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government.
Although the Centre claimed while appointing Thomas that he was exonerated in the palm oil import case, records at the state vigilance court and directorate showed that he was only out on bail and could be prosecuted.
HT obtained two replies to queries filed under the RTI, clearly showing that Thomas is the eighth accused in the case filed in 2003 and the court never quashed charges against any of the accused.
The chief minister said he will inform the Centre about his dissatisfaction. “What is disturbing is that he’s heading a body that is meant to check corruption.”
In 1992, the Kerala government, under then chief minister K. Karunakaran, imported 15,000 tonne of palm oil from Malaysia through Power and Energy Pvt Ltd for the public distribution service network. The deal was allegedly clinched in violation of the State Trading Corporation guidelines and resulted in a R2.8-crore loss. Thomas was the state food secretary when the government decided on the import.
The Comptroller and Auditor General of India pointed out the irregularities in the deal and the case was later handed over to the state vigilance department.
Asked whether the state will now withdraw the case, the CM said, “I have fought this case for the last 18 years. I am not that foolish to withdraw it now.”