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IAS Officers in Kerala Up in Arms Against Vigilance Director Jacob Thomas

Thiruvananthapuram: IAS officers in Kerala are up in arms against state vigilance director Jacob Thomas and have decided to go on mass casual leave on Monday to protest against him.

Many officers have complained that the vigilance director is misusing his power and registering cases against senior civil servants. Some also alleged that the action was leaked to the media to tarnish their image. IAS officers in the state had earlier approached the Chief Secretary as well as Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan over the issue.

The decision to go on mass casual leave stems from a case registered against additional chief secretary (industries) Paul Antony in connection with the nepotism case involving former Industries Minister E P Jayarajan.

After a case was registered against Antony, IAS officers held a meeting on Saturday and decided to protest by going on mass casual leave. A note was circulated after the meeting which accused Jacob Thomas of taking vindictive actions. The officers have also questioned the “integrity” of Thomas, who is facing several cases. The IAS officers also questioned the government’s inaction over these cases.

The note further said, “We are deeply aggrieved and saddened that such an officer (Vigilance director Jacob Thomas), whose integrity is prima facie doubtful and not beyond suspicion, is allowed to sit in judgment as vigilance director on the conduct of other civil servants.”

“We are requesting our colleagues of the Kerala IAS Association to avail one day’s casual leave on January 9, 2017, to express our sadness, frustration, and professional dissatisfaction and to show solidarity with our aggrieved colleagues, in allowing the present vigilance director to continue abusing his powers,” the note said.

Additional Chief Secretary K M Abraham had complained to the Chief Minister after the recent vigilance checks at his residence. He alleged that the due procedure was not followed and Thomas’s objective was to intimidate him. The raids were also conducted at the residence of Additional Chief Secretary Tom Jose.

“In the past few months,” the note said, “there have been instances when the vigilance director had taken vindictive actions against officers who, either pointed out his misdoings or questioned him for taking law in his hands.”

In one of the cases reopened by Thomas, the departmental inquiry had already been conducted and an FIR filed against the officer. In some other cases, the petitions were filed by people with “dubious integrity” or where they were themselves accused of serious crimes.
They also appealed to officers who are attending emergency duties of law and order or other critical duties, particularly, in the position of the district collector and sub-collectors to attend to their work while expressing solidarity with this sentiment by availing of one day’s casual leave.

IAS officers requested the President of Kerala IAS Association to draft an appropriate memorandum on the basis of the sentiments expressed above and submit the same to the Chief Minister for his attention.

Referring to the FIR registered against Paul Antony, the note said: “The latest case was filed on January 6 when a senior colleague with exemplary credentials was implicated as the third accused in a case involving the appointment of a relative of a minister as managing director of a corporation.”

“In this instance, the officer has implemented the written instructions of his minister in accordance with the circular No 25208/D2/09/ID dated 15.2.2010 under the Rules of Business that confers sole powers of such appointments in the industries department on the minister. We are unable to understand how obeying the written instructions of a minister, which is not in violation of any Act or statute, can be deemed illegal and how such an officer can be implicated in a criminal case.”

The note further said: “We, the officers, who have reason to believe that the action by the vigilance director against our senior colleague was motivated retaliation primarily due to the fact that he took the view that the arrest of Mr. Padmakumar, former MD Malabar Cements Ltd, was in gross violation of all legal norms and principles of natural justice.”

The note said that the officers are also aggrieved by the fact that even while the vigilance director continues to violate principles of natural justice and abuse his power, the government is not taking any action against him.