Central Vigilance Commissioner PJ Thomas is likely to quit soon, top government sources said, even as he put up a brave front before TV cameras on Wednesday, reiterating he was still the CVC.
“Thomas’s resignation is only a question of timing… He has indicated to people concerned that he is ready to quit. The decision on the timing of it is yet to be taken,” the source said.
Thomas offered to recuse himself from supervising the CBI probe in the 2G spectrum case on Wednesday, since he had been telecom secretary in the recent past.
The Opposition and Supreme Court have questioned Thomas’s continuance as head of India’s top corruption watchdog, since he faces a 2003 criminal case.
Thomas said the government had taken the old case against him – relating to the import of palmolein by the Kerala government while he was civil supplies secretary in the state – into consideration before appointing him to the key post.
The Opposition, however, interpreted Thomas’s statements, obviously authorised by the government, as an attempt to enable him to retain his job and promptly raised the pitch of its demand for his resignation.
“There is no other way other than the CVC resigning,” senior BJP leader Venkiah Naidu emphasised.
Two NDA allies, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Trinamool Congress also distanced themselves from Thomas’s controversial appointment.
NCP leader and union minister Praful Patel said the CVC should be a person “who is absolutely above board” while TMC leader Sudip Bandopadhyaya called for a discussion within the UPA.
“This is the end of the road for Thomas in more ways than one,” a senior government official added. Thomas had quit the IAS to join the CVC in early September and has thus rendered himself ineligible for any other government assignment.
“The CVC Act bars vigilance commissioners from taking up any post-retirement posts,” the official explained.
Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium confirmed to a Supreme Court bench of justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly earlier in the day that Thomas had offered to recuse himself from supervising the CBI in the spectrum allocation case in accordance with the highest traditions.
The offer came after the Supreme Court asked if Thomas would be objective in his handling of the alleged spectrum scam since as telecom secretary, he had justified the spectrum allocation.
Within hours of Subramanium’s submission in the Supreme Court, Thomas broke his silence to scotch rumours that he had already put in his papers.
“I was appointed by the Government taking into consideration all these (matters). There is no controversy. There is some old case in which Supreme Court stay is there. These are judicial matters which will be settled. Law will take its own course,” he said.
The Opposition maintained the CVC’s recusal was no way to deal with the issue.
“You go to the Supreme Court and tell the court that he will not enquire into the scam. Then what is the CVC for? asked BJP’s Naidu.
“The CVC is the head of an institution, he is supposed to guide, supervise and monitor the probe and if he is going to do this (recuse himself) then what for he is. This is a way to bail him out from the present situation and to bail out the government from embarrassment”, Naidu said.
Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin
Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog has asked authorities to place ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law on the Exit Control List to prevent them from leaving the country.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sent a formal request to the ministry of interior. The interior ministry officials confirmed that the NAB wrote that names of Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar should be put on the Exit Control List (ECL), which listed individuals not allowed to leave Pakistan.
The NAB argued that as the trial of the three nears its conclusion, it is feared that they would leave the country.
Earlier, a similar request to place name of finance minister Ishaq Dar on ECL was not accepted, allowing him to go to London and never return.
Sharif, 68, and his family this week filed an application with the accountability court seeking a fortnight’s exemption from personal appearance from February 19 onwards to let them go to London to see Sharif’s ailing wife. Three cases were filed against Sharif and his family last year, including Avenfield properties, Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment, and Flagship Investments.
Maryam and Safdar are accused only in Avenfield properties case. The NAB had filed two supplementary references against Sharif, his sons Hasan and Hussain regarding Al-Azizia Steel Mills & Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship Investment cases.
Pakistan “breaches obligations’ on nuclear arms reduction, UN court told
The Hague: Pakistan is violating its “obligations” to the international community by failing to reduce its nuclear arsenal, the Marshall Islands told the UN’s highest court on Tuesday.
The small Pacific Island nation is this week launching three unusual cases against India, Pakistan and Britain before the International Court of Justice.
Majuro wants to put a new spotlight on the global nuclear threat, its lawyers said yesterday, by using its own experience with massive US-led nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s.
“Pakistan is in breach of its obligations owed to the international community as a whole,” when it comes to reducing its nuclear stockpile, said Nicholas Grief, one of the island nation’s lawyers.
DeBrum warned that even a “limited nuclear war” involving the two countries would “threaten the existence” of his island nation people.
Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.
In 1998, the rival neighbours both demonstrated nuclear weapons capability.
The ICJ’s judges are holding hearings for the next week and a half to decide whether it is competent to hear the lawsuits brought against India and Pakistan — neither of which have signed the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
A third hearing against Britain — which has signed the NPT — scheduled to start on Wednesday will be devoted to “preliminary objections” raised by London.
The Marshalls initially sought to bring a case against nine countries it said possessed nuclear arms: Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States.
Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons.
But the Hague-based ICJ, set up in 1945 to rule in disputes between states, has only admitted three cases against Britain, India and Pakistan, because they have accepted the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction.
Pakistan’s lawyers did not attend Tuesday’s hearings.
It did however file a counter-claim against Majuro’s allegations saying “the court has no jurisdiction to deal with the application” and insisting that the case is “not admissible”, said ICJ President Ronny Abraham.
Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus
New Delhi: Bangladesh is likely to drop Islam as its official religion following a series of attacks on people from other faiths in the country. The country’s Supreme Court is hearing a plea challenging the status of the official religion of the country to Islam.
Bangladesh, which was declared a secular country after its formation in 1971, was declared an Islamic country following a constitutional amendment in 1988.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, the plea has challenged the declaration of Islam as the national religion of the country.
The move is being supported by leaders from the minority communities like Hindus, Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.
Bangladesh has 90 per cent of Muslims, 8 per cent Hindus and remaining constitutes Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.
In last month, a Hindu priest was hacked to death following an attack on a temple in Panchgarh district. Two others were seriously injured in the attack. There have been several lethal attacks on writers and bloggers.
According to a report in the Independent, Islamist groups Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh and Ansarullah Bangla Team are believed to have carried out at least seven attacks on foreign and minority people in Bangladesh in the past year.