Chidambaram says didn’t mislead Sushma Swaraj on Thomas

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

NEW DELHI - Home Minister P. Chidambaram Wednesday denied allegations by opposition leader Sushma Swaraj that he “misled” the committee that selected P.J. Thomas as central vigilance commissioner (CVC) last year.

I take exception to the statement by Swaraj that I ‘misled the selection committee’ and told the committee that Thomas had been ‘acquitted’,” Chidambaram said in a statement issued here.

“Actually, Swaraj is tying herself in knots by making thoughtless allegations,” he said.

The committee included Chidambaram, Sushma Swaraj and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sushma Swaraj had Tuesday claimed that at the Sep 4 meeting of the committee Chidambaram had said Thomas had been acquitted in the palmolein case. The case relates to corruption in the import of palm oil from Malayasia when Thomas was food secretary of Kerala in the 1990s.

“Firstly, if no sanction for prosecution had been granted since 1999 against Thomas (as admitted by her), how could the case have proceeded to trial or ended in an acquittal of Thomas?” Chidambaram asked.

“Secondly, if the Supreme Court had stayed the trial of the case (as admitted by her), is it not self-evident that the case was pending and nobody could have been either acquitted or convicted?” he added.

“I reiterate that the committee was aware of the palmolein case; that no sanction for prosecution of Thomas had been granted since 1999; that the case was pending in the trial court; that the Supreme Court had stayed the trial of the case; and that the then CVC had granted vigilance clearance in respect of Thomas,” the statement said.

“I issue this rejoinder, once again, most reluctantly,” Chidambaram said.

“I would request the leader of opposition to respect the rule of sub judice and allow the Supreme Court to decide the case.”

Sushma Swaraj said Tuesday she was dropping her plan to file an affidavit in the Supreme Court in the matter as “he (Chidambaram) has admitted that she had raised the palmolein case issue at the selection committee meeting”.

will not be displayed