Quit, Mr Thomas

Posted on December 2, 2010 | View 660

Fast-track the case against him.

The only reasonable way out for a Central Vigilance Commissioner who attracts the Supreme Court's adverse attention for a pending case of misconduct against him is to quit.


The court has rightly questioned Mr Thomas' suitability to supervise the CBI's investigations into the 2G spectrum scam as he was the telecom secretary at the relevant time.


In addition, Mr Thomas has been chargesheeted in Kerala's 1991-92 palmolein import case.


Of course, it reflects sadly on our investigative and judicial process that the case should have dragged on for 10 years.


The case should be fast-tracked to release him from this probably undeserved shadow over his character.


But there also can be no running away from the fact that only persons without any question about their integrity should man an office meant to fight widespread corruption.


While Mr Thomas has reportedly offered to rescue himself — withdraw from participation when there seems to be any conflict of interest — from the 2G spectrum case, impugned integrity would still make his continuation as the CVC unviable.


Moreover, Mr Thomas' appointment overrode the dissent of the leader of the Opposition, who recorded her objection to the other members of the selection panel, the Prime Minister and the home minister.


There is little merit in having a member of the Opposition on any such panel if his or her objections are only going to be brushed aside.


Consensus must be the binding principle in such appointments.


And it ill-behoves a government dealing with the unearthing of multiple scams to continue with a CVC whose appointment has been questioned by the highest court in the land.


That is not to suggest or imply that there is some actual wrongdoing on Mr Thomas' part.


Rather, he enjoys a clean reputation among fellow officers.


The point is that people in such positions should be universally seen to be above board, and there should ideally be a political, and wider public, consensus on such appointments.


Without that, our investigative bodies will continue to suffer from accusations of being prey to political interference, and even being used by governments of the day against political opponents.

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