P.J. Thomas, former Telecom Secretary, was sworn in as 14th Central Vigilance Commissioner by the President of India yesterday, after less than a year at the telecom ministry. Thomas had been appointed Telecom Secretary in October 2009, and oversaw the 3G auction, and weathered the storm surrounding allegations of corruption facing Telecom Minister Andimuthu Raja and the Department of Telecom, following allocation of license and spectrum to new telecom operators at Rs. 1650 Crore, the unusually and unexpectedly on a first-come-first-served basis.
Aas DNA wrote a couple of days ago, Thomas was once implicated, then cleared of a palm oil import scam. Frankly, the Chief Vigilance Commissioner needs to be above suspicion, and particularly given his involvement with the telecom ministry, we wonder if Thomas will be able to take an impartial view of matters. We hope so. Still, it’s not a healthy precedent for the Union Government to set, but then that itself is not unexpected.
Also, we just noticed that the Pioneer’s story on the 2G scam, called Tapped and Trapped, is no longer available online. Scans of documents that, allegedly, were submitted by India’s Income Tax Department to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), after tapping phones of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia, are available here.