Three official letters one written by Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) in 2008,and two by the Kerala government in 2006 and 2008 suggest the palmolein case against P J Thomas had come to the notice of the Prime Minister.
A confidential note sent by DoPT to the Cabinet Secretariat on November 17,2008,seeking the vigilance status of two IAS officers of 1972 batch (one was Thomas) and seven IAS officers of 1973 batch,shows that the previous Kerala governments decision to withdraw the palmolein case had come to the notice of the PM.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said he was not aware of the case pending against Thomas till the meeting of the selection committee on September 3,2010.
Singh had said he gave his approval as he believed vigilance clearance would have been obtained as Thomas had earlier served as Kerala chief secretary and secretary in the central government.
The DoPT note was signed by under secretary Kabindra Joshi on October 17,2008. It informed the Secretariat that Kerala had requested sanction for prosecution against Thomas in the palmolein case… However,the state in 2005 requested that the earlier letter in 1999 seeking sanction may be treated as withdrawn. After ascertaining full reasons for the request,the matter was submitted to the Prime Minister. The PM has ordered that in view of the fact that there are no disciplinary proceedings in the case,the request of the state regarding withdrawal of request for sanction is noted.
Another letter on March 11,2008,by O Babu,joint secretary to the Kerala chief secretary,was in reply to a DoPT query regarding the empanelment of 1972-77 batches of IAS officers.
The letter to the additional secretary of DoPT said: P J Thomas Chief Secretary to government,had applied for central deputation in 1988,but was not selected for appointment. Subsequently after 1992,he had expressed his willingness for central deputation,but was not considered because of a vigilance case… The case has not been finalised yet. I may inform that Thomas could not work at the Centre as he was not recommended for the same by the state government.
Earlier on October 10,2006, DoPT was informed by Kerala Additional Chief Secretary Lizzi Jacob that the state had decided to continue the prosecution against the accused (Thomas and others) in the palmolein case.
This intimation to the Centre was made after the LDF government came into power in May 2006. The previous Congress government had decided to drop the case.