Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) P.J. Thomas resigned Thursday after the Supreme Court held his appointment illegal, Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily said, adding there was no illegality by the prime minister.
“We are not in any position to say anything now as we have to go through the order. He has tendered his resignation and the Supreme Court also held his appointment illegal,” Moily told reporters outside parliament.
Thomas, chief of India’s anti-corruption watchdog, was appointed to the post six months ago by a government committee that included Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. But his tenure was marked by controversy due to his alleged involvement in a corruption case.
Asked whether the prime minister should seek an apology from the nation, Moily said: “No illegality has been done by the prime minister. He has been very clear … there are some set procedures, the procedures may have been questioned and we will rectify them.”
He said the government would respect the Supreme Court order.
“The question is that many a times executive orders are challenged by the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court has issued the order. I don’t think you must read a lot into it. We have to proceed with the order.”
Moily denied the order had left the government red-faced as the appointment was made by a panel consisting of Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P. Chidambaram. Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj, who is also part of the committee, had vetoed Thomas’ appointment.
“At this point of time we cannot say (what) it is for and against. I don’t think so. We will look into the judgment and we would come out with a representation (if needed),” Moily said, adding the central vigilance commission had also cleared the appointment of Thomas.
The apex court Thursday struck down the appointment of Thomas as CVC, six months after he was appointed to the post.
The apex court gave its verdict on a petition by the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) challenging the appointment. The petitioner had said that Thomas was facing a criminal chargesheet in a case related to palm oil import in Kerala and he was not an “outstanding civil servant of impeccable integrity”.
While striking down Thomas’ appointment, an apex court bench headed by Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia Thursday said institutional integrity and functioning were more important than personal integrity though both were related.
Thomas was Kerala’s civil supplies secretary in 1992 when the palm oil scam allegedly involving him took place. The palm oil case was registered in 1999, accusing Thomas and others of a criminal conspiracy and causing a loss of Rs.2.32 crore to the exchequer.