Breaking down the CVC Scam — step by step

The Supreme Court’s judgment on the appointment of the Chief Vigilance Commissioner PJ Thomas gives clear details about how the Congress government, both at the Centre and in Kerala, tried to quash the criminal proceedings against PJ Thomas.

The Judgment, which scrutinizes the role of the Department of Personnel and Training of the Central government, offers a glimpse at how the ‘CVC Scam’ was carried out. It also shows how the Left parties persevered to get Thomas prosecuted under the law.

The judgment also offers scathing remarks at the flip-flopping of the stance of the CVC and the inconsistency of the stand taken by the DoPT when it came to give permission to Kerala to proceed against Thomas in a court in Trivandrum.


  • Elections were held in the State of Kerala on 20th May, 1996
    and the Left Democratic Front formed the government.
  • An FIR was registered against Shri Karunakaran, former Chief
    Minister and six others  involved in the import of
    Palmolein under Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and Section
    120B (Criminal Conspiracy) of the IPC
  • Karunakaran filed a petition before the High Court  for
    quashing of the said FIR
  • The High Court dismissed the said writ petition
  • The State of Kerala, on 31st December, 1999 wrote to the
    Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) of Central
    Government seeking sanction to prosecute the Karunakaran, Thomas
  • Charge-sheet filed against Thomas, Karunakaran and others in
    special court in Trivandrum
  • After receiving the request of the State Government, the file
    was processed by various authorities. On 18th January, 2001, a
    note was put up by the concerned Under-Secretary that a regular
    departmental enquiry should be held against Shri P.J. Thomas and
    Shri Jiji Thomson for imposing a major penalty.
  • Karunakaran challenged the High Court order before Supreme
    Court. Supreme Court dismisses Karunakaran’s appeal on 29th
    March, 2000, holding that the “FIR against the appellants and
    others cannot be held to be the result of mala fides or actuated
    by extraneous considerations.”
  • On 18th February, 2003, the DoPT had made a reference to the
    Central Vigilance Commission (“CVC” for short) on the subject
  • The CVC advised DoPT to “initiate major penalty proceedings
    against Shri P.J. Thomas and Shri Jiji Thomson, and completion
    of proceedings thereof by appointing departmental Inquiry..”
  • Vide letter dated 20th December, 2004, the Central Government
    asked the State Government to send a copy of the report which
    had been filed before the Court of competent jurisdiction.
  • Despite receipt of the above opinion of CVC, the matter was
    still kept pending, though a note was again put up on 24th
    February, 2004 on similar lines as that of 18th January, 2001.
  • Congress comes to power in Kerala.
  • Kerala gov, on 24th January, 2005 wrote to the DoPT that they
    wish to withdraw their request for according the sanction for
    prosecution of the officers
  • Left parties come to power in 2006 in Kerala
  • Government of Kerala disowns Congress gov’s affidavit and
    asked again for sanction to prosecute Thomas and others.
  • On 10th May, 2007, Centre writes to CVC again seeking advice.
  • This time, CVC says “no case is made out against P.J. Thomas
    and Jiji Thomson and no loss has been caused to the State
    Government and most important, no case is made out that they had
    derived any benefit from the transaction.”
    SUPREME COURT COMMENT: “Neither in the above reply nor on the file any reasons are available as to why CVC had changed its earlier opinion/stand as conveyed to the Ministry vide its letter dated 3rd June, 2003″<
  • Karunakaran again files an appeal in Supreme Court in 2007
  • Supreme Court stays further proceedings before the Trial Court
    in Trivandrum.
  • CVC gives clearance to Thomas on 6th October, 2008
    SUPREME COURT COMMENT: “We have perused the files submitted by the learned Attorney General for India. From the said files we find that there are at least six notings of DoPT between 26th June, 2000 and 2nd November, 2004 which has recommended
    initiation of penalty proceedings against Shri P.J. Thomas and yet in the clearance given by CVC on 6th October, 2008 and in the Brief prepared by DoPT dated 1st September, 2010 and placed before HPC there is no reference to the earlier notings
    of the then DoPT and nor any reason has been given as to why CVC had changed its views while granting vigilance clearance on 6th October, 2008.”
  • On 23rd January, 2009, PJ Thomas was appointed as Secretary,
    Parliamentary Affairs at the Centre
  • The DoPT suggested 3 officers for the post of CVC in
    September, 2010.
  • The meeting of the High Power Committee for selecting CVC
    consisting of the Prime Minister, the Home Minister and the
    Leader of the Opposition was held on 3rd September, 2010.
  • P.J. Thomas was recommended for appointment to the post of
    Central Vigilance Commissioner by majority.