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He has a charge-sheet against him. But he heads our corruption watchdog

PJ Thomas has been made chief vigilance commissioner despite the apex court questioning his appointment. He is accused in a graft case. But our Attorney General has gone on record saying that “impeccable integrity” is not an eligibility criterion for appointment of the CVC. Go figure

The current CVC of India, PJ Thomas, has been appointed to this post-when allegations of corruption against him have not yet been cleared.
The process of his appointment was itself controversial.

Moneylife has in its possession documents detailing the coronation of Mr Thomas, made available to us by activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal, who obtained them through the RTI (Right To Information) Act. The documents reveal the bureaucratic approvals leading up to the appointment of Mr Thomas.

On 3rd September, prime minister Manmohan Singh, home minster P Chidambaram and Sushma Swaraj of the BJP (in her capacity as leader of Opposition, Lok Sabha) met to finalise the CVC's appointment. Ms Swaraj disagreed to the appointment of Mr Thomas as CVC, but the detailed proceedings of the same have not been provided to Mr Agrawal, apart from the note recording the Opposition leader's dissent.

On 9th November, the Supreme Court asked the already-beleaguered Centre whether the criterion of being an "outstanding civil servant" was met when Mr Thomas was appointed as CVC.

Now why is Mr Thomas in the eye of a storm? He was secretary, department of telecommunications, during A Raja's now-infamous tenure. 
 
In addition, the Comptroller and Auditor General had exposed a case of palmolein imports into Kerala from Malaysia during the early 1990s; Mr Thomas is an accused in this scandal. It involves the alleged import of this commodity at an exorbitant rate, causing a loss of Rs2 crore to the state exchequer.

On 17th December, the court of the enquiry commissioner and Special Judge (Vigilance) at Thiruvananthapuram will conduct proceedings into the case.
With due respect to the various statutory bodies involved in the appointment of the current CVC, does Mr Thomas fit the bill?

On top of this, the Centre (on 23rd November) defended the selection of the CVC before the Supreme Court (SC) by stating that "impeccable integrity" was not an eligibility criterion for appointment of the CVC.

These words were from Attorney General (AG) GE Vahanvati before an SC bench comprising Chief Justice SH Kapadia and Justices KS Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar.

The AG made this statement after being constantly grilled by the apex bench on how an accused could get the top post of a CVC.

We needn't add anything more. "Impeccable integrity" is not needed if you want to head the topmost corruption watchdog.

The only saving grace is: If we are already plumbing such abysmal moral depths, we just can't sink any deeper.

  For the record, according to the official Indian government website (http://cvc.nic.in/CVC_power.htm), following are just a few 'powers and functions' of a CVC.

A CVC has the power:

1)      To undertake an inquiry or cause an inquiry or investigation to be made into any transaction in which a public servant working in any organisation, to which the executive control of the Government of India extends, is suspected or alleged to have acted for an improper purpose or in a corrupt manner;

2)      To tender independent and impartial advice to the disciplinary and other authorities in disciplinary cases, involving vigilance angle at different stages i.e. investigation, inquiry, appeal, review etc.;

3)      To exercise a general check and supervision over vigilance and anti-corruption work in Ministries or Departments of the Govt of India and other organisations to which the executive power of the Union extends.

To cut a long job description short, the CVC has got to ensure that corruption is weeded out of the country.

User

COMMENTS

mahavir jain

6 years ago

Mercifully for the Congress led UPA Government and Mr PJ Thomas, the common people in the country are not aware of all the intricacies involved in the appoint of the CVC and his statutory status. They Govt is not bothered about the remarks made by the Apex court or the clamor made by part of the media.

kumar

6 years ago

SUCH POSTS SHOULD BE INDEPENDENTLY APPOINTED WITHOUT ANY POLITICAL PARTY / GOVT. INDULGING IN IT.

IN THE LARGEST FARCE-O-CRACY OF THE WORLD, NICKNAMED DEMOCRACY IN INDIA, ALL NONSENSE HAPPENS THROUGH, OF & BY THE GOVT. WHICH HAS NO BUSINESS EXCEPT MISGOVERN INDIA AS PROVED IN 60+ YEARS. THANKS TO POLITICAL BIGWIGS & MINIONS TO BABUS TO CLERKS & PEONS!

Babubhai Vaghela

6 years ago

On seeing your comment, I just emailed Goa Shipyard Director Finance financial irregularity case for information & to stop victimisation of the Internal Auditor. Email to CVO Defence, CVC, CBI, PM, President, HCs at Bombay & Delhi as also Supreme Court. Hopefully, action would be taken soon.

B V KRISHNAN

6 years ago

The pity is that in India, the ruling party or parties can get away with such arrogant behaviour. I heard somewhere that there is a rule which makes it obligatory for the govt to get the opposition leader's consent before appointing the CVC. Does this not make MrThomas's apppointment illegal? Can somebody clarify?

REPLY

Babubhai Vaghela vaghelabdATyahooDOTcom

In Reply to B V KRISHNAN 6 years ago

Dr Manmohan Singh ABUSED power in appointing Mr PJ Thomas as CVC discarding Smt Sushma Swaraj view. While Dr Manmohan Singh jointly ABUSED power with Mr L K Advani in appointing Mr Wajahat Habibllah and then Mr A N Tiwari as CIC.

K Narayanan

In Reply to Babubhai Vaghela vaghelabdATyahooDOTcom 6 years ago

Every party is corrupt and every party's spokeperson strongly defends its misdeeds.Govt consists of elected rogues.Thomas might have thought " When ministers are looting crores and crores and getting why I not be smart and get a small share".We will get a solution only when the system becomes so bad for everyone -like the plague that happened in Surat and later it became a clean city.

Suresh Pilankar

6 years ago

this is common in India. In Goa shipyard a defence compnay. the director finance mr Anantha sayanam is reported to have involved in financial irregularities. the internal Auditors of the comoany reported the matter to the Chairman & managing director of the company.the explainations given by the director were rejected by the CMD, yet the internal auditor is transffered as EA to the DIRECTOR finance.the chief vigilalnce commission has also confirmed the irreularities. the defence ministry has also obtained records to confirm the financial irregularities. yet the internal auditor is tortured for the past more than five years. As per my knowledge the internal auditor who is present EA to DIRECTOR finance has approached the Prime minister, president, defence minister, the cvo, sonia gandhi,yet.the sufferrer is an honest internal auditors. at the end let us say jai ho

philip george

6 years ago

Set a thief to catch a thief?

Babubhai Vaghela

6 years ago

PJ Thomas should gracefully resign before he is compelled to.

REPLY

K Narayanan

In Reply to Babubhai Vaghela 6 years ago

Why should he resign?Govt has appointed him.If Govt is feeling okay why shd he resign?
Did Chawla (CEC)resign when allegations were there agaist him.Did our so called honest and cleanest PM MM Singh resign?Are our industrialist are not looting the country tho so many overt and covert means.The country is open to anybody to loot provided you are clever enought not to get caught.

M P Pinto

6 years ago

I do not know Mr Thomas and have nothing to say about his suitability for the post of CVC. But doesn't the fact that a case against him for something done in 1991 is still pending ring alarm bells? Isn' this the easiest way of blocking the appiontment of any person: simply file a case against him and say that even if it takes more than 20 years to decide he is not eligible for anything until that case is decided? Is this what we want?

kumar

6 years ago

Manmohan singh is the corruption king.
Karunanidhi can even corrupt god. What chance does does manmohan have against Karun + sonia? What pains most indians is the idiotic congress spokesmen comming out so strongly in defence of these criminals.

REPLY

K Narayanan

In Reply to kumar 6 years ago

At least they are people like yor who realise the damage MM Singh is causing to the country.MMsMM Singh is the worst criminal tho not in the legal sense.He wears a facade of innocence and honesty.He is shameless person forget about Thomas,Raja,Kalmadi.
We cannot expect politicans who come to power on vote bank can ever be honest.They need pliable people to fulfil the agenda.Is Sonia Gandhi the grand daughter of Sri Mahatma Gandhi?Pawar and Sangma shamelessly joined her after making so much about her foreign origin.Advani and Sushma are honesty personfied because they back Yuddy and Sibu at any cost.All ministers take an oath.To loot the country-not to abide by constitution.Oath taking ceremony is a big joke conducted by Gov or Pres at a great cost.

K B Patil

6 years ago

With all this muck hitting us daily, how can anyone say that the PM is a man of integrity. He has spent long years in the bureaucracy. He knows how the system works and yet, has anyone seen him take a single concrete step to clean the system. The system has won. It has him firmly in its cluctches.

ramchandran

6 years ago

Its a sad state of affairs. Certain Positions must have a minimum criteria to be met.

Opaque RBI rewards charge-sheeted official

RBI director, who once scrambled to pay Rs20 lakhs to a hoax caller, was rewarded with promotion to oversee NBFCs!

Putting a lid on officers' scandals is not new to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Last week, Moneylife reported that the blemished track record of Anand Sinha, the deputy govenor designate had been informed to the cabinet secretary and finance minister by an activist.
 
(http://www.moneylife.in/article/72/11085.html) We now discover that a dangerous lack of judgement on an even major issue of indiscretion has been similarly buried. In fact, the case almost reads like a piece of fiction.

On 18 December 2003, the regional director of the RBI posted at Bhopal received a call from someone who claimed to be the then RBI governor, YV Reddy. (Some say he claimed to be a relative in Bhopal, but that will only make the RBI official's actions worse.) The caller told the regional director (RD) that he urgently needed her to arrange Rs20 lakhs for some payments to be made. The money had to be in cash.

The RD immediately called up some of her deputies and rushed around trying to raise cash for the "governor's emergency needs". But Rs 20 lakhs was difficult to raise in a jiffy, even for an officer charged with supervising all banks in the Bhopal region. So she sprang into action and got her junior officers at the RBI and others to withdraw cash, added some of her own money and rustled up Rs9 lakh. The "governor" or his agent was willing to accept the smaller amount raised and asked for the money to be delivered under a bridge in Bhopal. The regional director hopped into an autorickshaw to personally deliver the money. Even later, she did not check back with the governor's office to ask if he had legitimately sought the money. She probably hoped to be quietly rewarded.

In January, the Bhopal police caught the imposter in another case and only then did the pay-off arranged by the RD come to light. The matter was reported to the head office, which immediately sent a team from the vigilance department to conduct an inquiry. A preliminary inquiry found that "the regional director acted in a most unusual manner, and not only did she fail to exercise her judgment, but her conduct was suspicious and required further investigation. It also held that she coerced a number of officers working under her to collect money". She was transferred out of Bhopal and not given any assignment.

When this episode came to the attention of Dr YV Reddy, he was beside himself with anger. The officer and her juniors were charge-sheeted. A former deputy governor correctly wanted her sacked. After all, how can anyone in such a responsible position be so stupid? Wouldn't she at least check if the call had indeed come from the governor? On the flip side, it would suggest that the officer believed that an RBI governor is capable of asking a regional director to gather Rs20 lakh in cash at short notice and have it delivered to strangers under a bridge! That the senior officer acted on it is a strange reflection of what really goes on inside the RBI. It also suggests that someone at the level of a regional director, did not for a moment think that raising private cash cannot be part of her duties and refused to comply.

Subsequently, a departmental inquiry found her guilty of gross misconduct and negligence and she was demoted from the rank of CGM to GM. Her juniors who blindly followed her orders received similar slaps. But the RBI decided not to sack her. Instead, she was posted as vice principal, Bankers Training College, where she remained from June 2004 until the end of 2006.

But at the RBI, even such gross blunders do not end your career if you have godmothers at senior levels. Once the dust over her Bhopal shenanigans had settled down, she was promoted again in 2007 as chief general manager and given a crucially important post in the Department of Banking Supervision. Since 2010, she is chief general manager in charge the Department of Non-Banking Financial Supervision-an extremely important post at the RBI. Her name is Usha Subramaniam. That the central bank can bury a problem as serious as this is yet another reason why we demand that there needs to be more sunshine on RBI's many departments that have nothing to do with deciding the country's monetary policy.

In effect, even an official with no common sense and convenient moral flexibility can easily get away after such a sordid episode. In this case, our sources say that Ms Subramaniam's career was revived by none other than deputy governor Ms Shyamala Gopinath. RBI governor Dr D Subba Rao has currently charged Ms Gopinath with handling as many as 21 departments. Clearly, the RBI governor needs to dig into the RBI files.

We queried the governor whether this episode and the subsequent elevation of a charge-sheeted senior official meets with his approval. He did not reply. Meanwhile, this is yet another issue that Deepak Mehra from the Forum for Financial Fairness in Mumbai is set to take up with the finance ministry.
 

User

COMMENTS

k gopalakrishnan

6 years ago

It is surprising that the author digs up the case after so many years. Has she got paid for this job through the distractors of RBI? As an ex collegue from RBI, I know her well. Though at times abrasive, her honesty and integrity is beyond any doubt and especially she is far superior to the author both with regard to intelligence and knowledge of the subject. The author was apparently peeved when she was not taken seriously by Mr. Anand Sinha at the time of Harshad Mehta scam and she wanted him to repay for this and hence her fumings. But what about Ms. Uma. Any one in the know of things as to why the author is peeved at her?( I wish I had seen this news item earlier)

REPLY

amod ansari

In Reply to k gopalakrishnan 6 years ago

what is this personal and personalised garbage you are posting. check what is happening in the country -- telecom scam, citibank scam, realty scams, adarsh scam .... you manage a worms eye view of things by reducing everything to personal issues. And you link it back to a couple of decades of spite. Wow... no wonder India is heading to become a banana republic .. where you simply cannot ask for competence.

Arif Allana

6 years ago

Such cases need to be highlighted in Nationa Newspapers and Channels . If it had been in pvt sector the person concerned would have been immediately sacked

nitpam

6 years ago

Sucheta Madam,it is a request that you should write against those DNBS officials who invested in Limosine and got cheated and there was a news item how these officials could protect the common investors if they get cheated,their efficiency is also questionable and some of these officials have also been promoted and some are on the verge of being protected.Please pose question to Governor of RBI on the said issue,if Uma Subramanins continuing in RBI is questionable then what about those DNBS officers who themselves were the victims of being cheated by limosine?

Kanta

6 years ago

I agree with the views of Nitpam who correctly pointed that she is against the corruption. Why the incidence which took place years back appeared now? It shows that there are some employees involved whose bills etc. are questioned by the madam. I opine that one should investigate further. As far as she is concerned, she is very honest and she never spares the one who does wrong deeds. I am sure that those who are corrupt will never support her.

nitpam

6 years ago

What about those efficient non corrupt officials who progressed in her regime,I think her being harsh on officials who have misused their position in getting their children recruited in foreign banksand private institutions and her compelling the officials to perform their duties, she is definately against those work sheirkers taking fat salary and perks,without performing. She compels officials to deliver the goods,not like many top officials who themselves are corrupt or inefficient and turn a nelsons eye to what other do.There may be few disgruntled elements but she has suitably rewarded them who have discharged their duty and done justice to the salary that they receive.If a probe is conducted by CBI it will be proved that officials have misused their position to get theirr children recruited in Banks and financial institutions I am sure corrupt will never support her.

S Verghese

6 years ago

This was a news item in the Bhopal papers at one time. Nothing happened to Uma, except for the period of inactivity which she gainfully used to upgrade her qualifications on a full pay! Why did this come up only now in your column? The lady has ruined many a career of subordinates in her departments. She took off all her grief by spoiling the reports of promising officers. She came back to power in full force & with a vengence, never felt remorse at the agressive & rude mannerisms while dealing with faculty members at Bankers Training College & inspecting officers in her DBS days.

nitpam

6 years ago

Yes it is true that the incident has occured but not the amount what you have quoted.The other side of the lady should be seen,she is one of the rarest asset to the bank,as DBS chief she has sent chills in spine of the banks under her jurisdiction.She is doing the same with NBFC's at present.You should look into the other side also her honesty,sincerety and expertise banking knowledge.Being a spinster,she has no kith kin like many of top executives to be posted as executives in private sector bank or NBFC's.Her honesty sends shiver to the disgruntled officers who have been resorting to practises of claiming bogus bills or claiming bills not entitled as per rules.She terrifies the corrupt if the ugly incident which has taken is set aside she definately needs to hold the chair which is disputed by you>I canassure you if you investigate the other side of her qualites,you may canvass for her elevation to higherpost.Please make a investigation and one error cannot negatethe other side of qualites.All the Best.

Pantulu

6 years ago

I am really surprised how such things can happen in Reserve Bank. I worked in Public sector also and can confidently say that rules are to be followed even if the requirement is urgent. Have the rules changed as in the case of 2G spectrum? Most of our scams can be traced to not following rules. Is this the effect of so-called liberalisation?

R Balakrishnan

6 years ago

If Manmohan Singh can become a PM, a Rangarajan can become a governor or head the planning commission, at least these are resourceful persons and do not pretend to be intellectually honest. And it is time someone bought a big lock and shut down the RBI. Their battle against inflation is getting to be a joke. And after YV Reddy, the RBI is merely an extension of North Block. So, why waste resources on a RBI if north block is taking 'care' of us?

ramakrishna

6 years ago

This era is like "Yadha Raaja Thadha

Praja" "yadha praja thadha Raja"the qulities rulers have similarly officers,the qulities people have similarly rulers.ultimately people are sufferers

Santhana

6 years ago

Chief General Manager at RBI being so stupid!! Can't imagine. May be the more stupid you are the higher you go!! How they got in at the first place into RBI. Sure she would not have got thro ST/SC quota, only thro God fathers like Ms.Gopinath

REPLY

psb

In Reply to Santhana 6 years ago

It's a simple common sense, the person in question belongs to upper class Tamil Nadu Brahmin community and the person who reviewed her file also belongs to the same community, where is the question of worrying about SC/ST!!!!. The merits do not matter here.

Samar

6 years ago

RBI was given a chance to reply, but I wonder why they kept mum. What do they have to hide?

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