SC issues notice to Centre on former CVC chief PJ Thomas plea
Retired IAS officer PJ Thomas, whose appointment as CVC chief was held as illegal because of a pending corruption case against him in the decade-old palmolein oil import scam, approached the Supreme Court on Friday for quashing of the case.
Agreeing to hear his plea, a bench comprising Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and justices AR Dave and Vikramajit Sen also issued notice to Kerala government.
He moved the apex court after the Kerala high court dismissed his plea for quashing the corruption case pertaining to the import of palm oil from a Singapore firm, which was allegedly done at prices higher than the international rate during his tenure as Food Secretary in the state government.
The import of oil allegedly caused a loss of Rs. 2.32 crore to the exchequer.
Thomas submitted that there is nothing on record to show that he committed any offence and he was only executing a cabinet decision as a dutiful civil servant.
"The petitioner is facing trial, despite the fact that he has not committed any offence according to the law of the land, and as such there in nothing in the record to be termed as offence to be tried in the eyes of law against him and the continuance of the trial amounts violation of fundamental rights," the petition filed through advocate Wills Matthew said.
The matter pertains to an issue which happened on November 27, 1991 i.e. more than 21 years back and there is no justification in compelling the petitioner to face the trial indefinitely, it said.
The apex court in March 2011 had quashed the appointment of Thomas as Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) because of the pending corruption case against him in a designated CBI court in Kerala.
The scam in which Thomas was listed as the eighth accused related to palmolein imports in 1991. A case was filed in connection with the imports in 1992 and Thomas figured in the charge sheet filed in 1998.
As secretary, Food and Civil Supplies, Thomas had issued the government order for the import.
Thomas was the Union telecom secretary before he was made the 14th CVC in September 2010.