Palmolein case figured at CVC selection meet: Chidambaram

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Feb 2 2011, 05:20am hrs
Three days after the government told the Supreme Court that the fact that there was a chargesheet in the palmolein case against PJ Thomas was not placed before the committee selecting the Central Vigilance Commissioner, Union home minister P Chidambaram has said that the selection panel did discuss the issue.

Addressing a press conference on Monday, Chidambaram said he was happy to agree with the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj that the committee discussed the issue of a pending case against Thomas before he was named the CVC.

We did discuss the names of the panel. In fact, the bulk of the time (of discussion) was regarding P J Thomas and palmolein case. She (Swaraj) made her points, the other members of the Committee (PM and HM) made their points... It was brought to the notice of the committee during the discussion that although the case was registered, no sanction of prosecution was granted by the NDA government from December 1999 to May 2004 and by the UPA government subsequently, Chidambaram said.

When the trial of the case was stayed by the Supreme Court between 2007 and 2008, the Central Vigilance Commission had held that no case was made against Thomas and Jiji Thompson, another IAS official. Then Thomas was granted vigilance clearance (for appointment as Secretary in the Government), he said.

There could not have been a discussion for several minutes without bringing these facts before the committee. There could not have been a disagreement without a discussion, the home minister said.

Seeking to clarify the Attorney Generals stand on the Supreme Court in the matter, Chidambaram said he had specifically been asked by the judges whether papers and files relating to the Thomas case had been circulated during the selection committee meeting on September 3. The AG said I had said the papers and files were not circulated. It was never stated that there was no discussion on the case against Thomas, Chidambaram said. Asked how the government could have appointed a corrupt man facing a chargesheet to the post of CVC, Chidambaram shot back saying I respect your right to hold a point of view. Similarly you should also respect our point of view. The matter is actively subjudice.