Former CVC N Vittal backs Thomas; says he will come out clean

"Integrity is not at all an issue.Thomas has an excellent record. He has been cleared for empanelment to the Government of India...So an officer, who has a record and has come through the whole selection. I think it will be largely wrong to cast any aspersions on the integrity or the personality of Thomas.

"The whole question is about selection process and perception about the CVC. The matter is before the court. I am optimistic and, as a 72-year-old man, I am confident that as Sita came out of agnipariksha, the institute of the CVC will emerge stronger," Vittal told reporters here.

Vittal, who was the first chief of the anti-corruption watchdog, objected to the use of word 'tainted' for Thomas in the media.

"The use of word tainted (for CVC) is wrong. The whole issue is before the court and we need to wait for its decision. It is all about perception on whatever discussion is on in media.

"Today discussion is all about propriety. The issue of propriety needs to be taken final position as per the rule of law," he said on the sidelines of a seminar here.

60-year-old Thomas was selected as CVC by a three-member panel of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj and Home Minister P Chidambaram. Swaraj had registered a dissent note on Thomas's selection citing pending criminal charges.

The CVC's name figures in the chargesheet relating to import of palmolein when he was serving in the Kerala government.The Supreme Court had also raised questions on Thomas' ability to supervise the CBI investigations in the 2G spectrum allocation case. Thomas has earlier served in the Telecom Ministry as Secretary.

"For example, the issue of integrity whether the Prime Minister, Leader of opposition as well as the Home Minister should discuss the selection. Should there be consultation with the opposition leader or should there be a consent?

"Those two issues, I am sure will be clarified after the Supreme Court's decision. Once that judgement comes, I think it will go to strengthen the institution of CVC and whatever the current controversy is. It will be cleared," Vittal said.

Thomas refused to react to charges levelled against him."These things are subjudice. Whatever is subjudice, the matter is before the court. I have no comments on that," he said when asked to comment on the apex court's observation and opposition parties charges against him.

The Supreme Court will hear on January 27 a PIL seeking his removal from the key post.

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