Tuesday, January 11, 2011

CVC Thomas may face trial in palmolein scam - SC Vacates Stay On Trial

CVC Thomas may face trial in palmolein scam

SC Vacates Stay On Trial

New Delhi: Chief vigilance commissioner P J Thomas faces the awkward prospect of facing trial in a corruption case, with the Supreme Court on Tuesday clearing the way for the start of proceedings against him and other accused in the palmolein import case.

A Thiruvananthapuram special judge (vigilance) is scheduled to take up the trial under Prevention of Corruption Act on Wednesday and will proceed if the Supreme Court’s order reaches it in time.

This is the first instance of a CVC facing trial in a corruption case, though this will also give Thomas, who has turned down demands for his resignation saying he was innocent, to seek discharge from the case. The development deepened the controversy over Thomas’s choice to head the anti-corruption body, encouraging the Opposition to stick to its demand for his resignation, while compounding the dilemma of the government and the Congress leadership whose efforts to persuade the CVC to step down have failed.

Importantly, SC’s order had nothing to do with Thomas’s culpability. A bench of Justices Aftab Alam and R M Lodha lifted the stay because of the death of another accused in the case, former Kerala chief minister K Karunakaran. The apex court, which had stayed the trial on Karunakaran’s plea, said on Tuesday that proceedings against the former CM had become irrelevant after his death. Accordingly, the petition on which trial was stayed also became infructuous, clearing the way for trial of other accused to start.

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