New Delhi, Jan 31 (Agencies): Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Monday defended the appointment of Central Vigilance Commissioner PJ Thomas and said that the selection committee had bulk of the discussion regarding Thomas and Palmolein case.

Addressing a press conference, Chidambaram said, “We did discuss the names of the panel. In fact, the bulk of the time (of discussion) was regarding PJ Thomas and Palmolein case. She (Swaraj) made her points, the other members (Prime Minister and Home Minister) of the Committee made their points.”

Parrying a question whether a “chargesheeted” person should have been appointed, Home Minister said that he was happy to agree with the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj that the Committee discussed the issue of a pending case against Thomas before he was named the CVC.

“It was brought to the notice of the Committee during the discussion that although the case was registered, no sanction of prosecution was granted by the NDA government from December 1999 to May, 2004 and by the UPA government subsequently,” Chidambaram said.

When the trial of the case was stayed by the Supreme Court between 2007 and 2008, the CVC had held that no case was made against Thomas and Jiji Thompson, another IAS official. “Then Thomas was granted vigilance clearance (for appointment as Secretary in the Government),” he said.

Citing a statement of the Attorney General (AG) that when the Supreme Court had put a specific question whether papers and files relating to the case against Thomas were “circulated” during the meeting on September three, the AG had said, “I had said the papers and files were not circulated.”

“It was never stated (by the AG) that there was no discussion on the case against Thomas,” Chidambaram said quoting the Attorney General.

“I am happy to agree with the Leader of Opposition that the matter was discussed,” the Minister said.

When a questioner asked how the government could have appointed a “corrupt” man facing a chargesheet to the post of CVC, he shot back saying “I respect your right to hold a point of view similarly you should also respect our point of view. The matter is actively subjudice.”