President Pratibha Patil administered the oath of office to the former Telecom Secretary, P.J. Thomas, as the 14th Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) at a function held in the Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi on 7.09.2010.
Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily, Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar and Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah attended the ceremony.
However, the Bharatiya Janata Party boycotted the swearing-in. In the evening, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj met Ms. Patil to explain why she had given a dissent note against Mr. Thomas’ appointment. It is understood that Ms. Swaraj sought an appointment two days ago, hoping that she would be able to persuade the President not to give her assent to the appointment.
BJP kept up its protest, with Leaders of Opposition in both Houses — Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley — skipping the event at Rashtrapati Bhawan. Swaraj, who in her role as Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, was part of the collegium tasked with the selection of CVC, had objected to Thomas’s choice by pointing to his allged involvement in the palm oil import scam.
She argued that Thomas was ineligble also because he had, as telecom secretary, dealt with the controversial allocation of 2G spectrum, an important component of the brief of the Central Vigilance Commission.
A 1973-batch IAS officer of Kerala cadre, Mr. Thomas has held important assignments in Kerala as Secretary in Finance, Industry, Agriculture, Law and Justice and Human Resource Development Departments. He was the founder director of the Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode.
He became the Kerala Chief Secretary in 2007 and moved to the Central government as Secretary in the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs in January, 2009. Later he went on to become the Telecom Secretary.
Mr. Thomas succeeded Pratyush Sinha, a 1969-batch IAS officer of Bihar cadre, who demitted office on Monday after four-year tenure as the CVC.
His name was cleared by a three-member committee, headed by Dr. Singh and included Mr. Chidambaram and Ms. Swaraj. However the BJP leader opposed his appointment. The Prime Minister defended Mr. Thomas saying: “We have done the right thing. We have chosen the best candidate out of the list of three.”
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