Now in favour, now out, Kerala cop Jacob Thomas who often takes on high-ups

Over the years, the DGP-ranked, 1985-batch Kerala cadre officer has acquired an image of being a campaigner against corruption as well as a rebel cop.

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram | Updated: November 2, 2016 9:12 am
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TWO WEEKS ago, when he wanted to quit as director of Kerala’s Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau, Jacob Thomas said, “Every day there are new heavens and a new earth.” This came from an IPS officer for whom the highs and the lows have alternated over the course of a career that has seen him sidelined and threatened with disciplinary action during one regime, then elevated and given vocal support during the other.

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Over the years, the DGP-ranked, 1985-batch Kerala cadre officer has acquired an image of being a campaigner against corruption as well as a rebel cop. Made vigilance head shortly after the CPM-led LDF came to power, he cracked the whip on senior bureaucrats, including two additional chief secretaries. IAS officials complained he was implicating them in fabricated cases; he said he would spare no one in his fight against corruption.

Thomas’s offer to quit followed the emergence of financial irregularities at the Port directorate during his term as director there, which he took as a dent to his image. Then a petition came up in Kerala High Court last week, seeking a CBI probe against Thomas for alleged violation of service rules in 2009 when he had taken leave for three months to teach in a management institute.

When Thomas offered to quit, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan backed him as vigilance director. Following the high court petition, the government noted that the CBI has shown an “unusual interest” in the petition.

During the Congress-led regime, he had repeated showdowns with the government. He had been supervising the probe against K M Mani in the bar scandal when the UDF government shunted him out as additional director of VACB.

Along the way, he made controversial remarks, such as last year in public: “One should be facing at least three vigilance cases to become the chief secretary.” Then DGP T P Senkumar warned him he would face disciplinary action for talking to the media; Thomas was served showcause notices twice on that ground. Then CM Oommen Chandy said the government knew how to handle the officer; Thomas served the CM a legal notice.

After his removal as additional vigilance director, Thomas was made head of fire and rescue services. He courted controversy again, demanding builders follow national building code and fire safety norms. Under pressure from realtors, the government removed Thomas. He became managing director of Kerala Police Housing and Construction Corporation — a post normally held by an IG-level officer — until the new government asked him to head vigilance.

Born in an agricultural family in central Kerala, Thomas has a PhD in agronomy (he would later earn a management degree from IIM-A). He joined civil service at age 25. In 1987, he was appointed additional SP in Kasaragode. Removed while probing a murder involving the underworld, he served in low-profile police posts for some time. He was later made registrar of Kerala Agricultural University, but the appointment was cancelled when professors objected to working under their former student.

In 1997, he was appointed Kochi city police commissioner. He busted an illegal card game at a club and nabbed high-profile citizens, including police officers. During the same stint, however, Thomas refused to arrest People’s Democratic Party leader Abdul Nazar Madhani for want of evidence. An officer from outside Kochi, however, arrested Madhani and handed him over to Tamil Nadu police, who made him an accused in the Coimbatore serial blasts of 1998.

That year, Thomas was removed as Kochi police chief. It was the last posting that would require him to wear the police uniform.

He has been head of Kerala Civil Supplies Corporation and Supply Co. During the UDF regime of 2001-2006, Thomas cracked down on corruption in the corporation.

Thomas himself faced a vigilance probe on charges of accepting salary from a college where he taught for a while. Last year, then chief secretary Jiji Thompson recommended he be suspended or sacked. Thomas ended the controversy by returning the salary.

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First Published on: November 2, 2016 1:49 am
  1. P
    Paul
    Jan 14, 2017 at 7:23 am
    We definitely need more of such upright and bold Police officers. Let the PM take note of him and ensure that he progress in his difficult path with dignity. Its heartening to see that the present Kerala CM supports him unconditionally.
    Reply
    1. J
      joseph
      Nov 2, 2016 at 4:52 am
      Prime Minister Narendra Modiji should include "corruption free India " in the swatch Bharat mission and felicitate sincere officers like Jacob Thomas in public and telecast his tireless fight against corruption and punish those responsible for his subsequent victimization like frequent transfers from the government agencies and bureaucrats so that more and more Jacob Thomas will emerge to free India from corruption.
      Reply
      1. C
        cakadir
        Nov 3, 2016 at 2:53 am
        Mr. Thomas is a brave and bold officer and that's why the Mafia gangs behind authorities always got him moved all through. It is amazing to see that getting ry for working elsewhere is big crime while bribes of crores are only minor vices. Too bad and shameful state of affairs.
        Reply
        1. K
          khaja
          Nov 2, 2016 at 5:00 am
          Taking Bribe is ok, but taking ry is not ok ? We need more Thomas, more Hemants, more Robeiro..
          Reply
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            ProdyotPran
            Nov 2, 2016 at 5:27 pm
            in 13 hours for an honest and uncompromising bureaucrat there are only 3 this comment.lt;br/gt;This silence will not augur well for India.
            Reply
            1. P
              ProdyotPran
              Nov 2, 2016 at 5:35 am
              From this article it looks like Jacob Thomas is the type of person India needs in the federal executive ranks if we are to root out corruption and straighten out the backbone of this country.lt;br/gt;-lt;br/gt;It makes me feel good that such uncompromising officers do exist in the administrative ranks.lt;br/gt;-lt;br/gt;More such stories of principled officers need to be published on the regular basis.lt;br/gt;That will keep the torch of hope alive in the common Indians.
              Reply
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