The officer told TNM that he was happy about the court's comments on Vigilance department.

Wont quit in untimely manner I have certain plans Jacob Thomas intv to TNM
news Bureaucracy Wednesday, May 10, 2017 - 17:46

Former  Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau Director Jacob Thomas is holding all his cards close to his chest.

The maverick officer exited the Vigilance department under a cloud, sent off on long leave two days after the Kerala High Court had said his department was interfering in matters under the court’s and the legislature’s purview.

Speaking to The News Minute, Thomas hints that he’s likely to extend his leave further, but also asserts that he won’t quit his service. Thomas has already extended his leave once, applying for the extension on May 2, the day he was to rejoin his post as Vigilance Director. “I have plans, but I don’t think it’s time to reveal them. I am yet to take the final decision too,” he says.

“I have enquired about my leave credit, there is one and half years leave left for me. Do you think the government will reject it if I apply for leave? If I have to quit in an untimely manner, what was the need to opt for civil services?” he asks. The 56-year-old IPS officer still has over three years of his service period left, and will reach retirement in 2020.

Despite the note of dissatisfaction in his comments, though, Thomas insists that the question of whether he’s in service or out is irrelevant to his personal happiness. “I have always utilised my time. I will not be unhappy in any way” he says.

And although he’s stuck in administrative limbo (former DGP Loknath Behera has taken over his post at the VACB), Thomas says that he has always been content with his postings.

“We can’t expect things to work out in the way we wish. An officer is helpless in matters related to the government. I could have been worried when Behera was appointed as the DGP, jumping seniority – I am senior to him. In my career, I have had postings that were not so big, but I was always content,” he adds.

That’s a mild statement for an officer who has seen himself rise into and fall out of favour many times in the recent past. In 2015, he ruffled many feathers of the ruling UDF when he probed the sensational bar bribery scam –  in which Kerala Congress M supreme K M Mani and some Congress leaders were allegedly involved – as ADGP of the Vigilance department.

Moved to the Fire and Rescue Services department soon after, Jacob hit headlines again in September 2015, when the UDF government shunted him out of the Fire and Rescue Services, allegedly after he went after prominent builders for fire safety violations.

What Thomas highlights most from those days of friction with the previous government, though, is an insult he received from then Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. His relationship with Chandy, says the senior IPS officer of the 1985 batch, sourced after Chandy insulted him in a news conference by calling him ‘anti-people’.

Thomas returned to the VACB with strong backing from Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, and made strong moves against Congress leaders like K Babu, as well as against high-ranking IAS officers in the state. The limits of the CM’s backing, however, came to the fore when the HC questioned Thomas’s actions.

Thomas, however, evades any questions on his feelings towards CM Pinarayi following this. “He is the Chief Minister of the state. I respect him. He rules with a clear majority. I maintain a good relationship with him, as it ought to be between a Chief Minister and a police officer,” he says.  

He does hint at his continued loyalty to the CM, however, when he says of the decision to send him on leave, “There must have been some intention behind that, which it was not possible to convey to me at that time.”

Thomas had himself offered to resign from the VACB Director’s post earlier, when allegations cropped up in January of corruption during his tenure as Director of Ports in 2009. Thomas is vehement in his denial of these allegations. “I haven’t even received a tea as reward from anybody,” he says emphatically.

He adds that he has never been one to flaunt or abuse his authority as a high-ranking government official. “I am the same whenever I am inside or outside the service. I have never used beacon lights and exhibited stars to highlight my authority. There are many officers who are keen to wear the stars. I believe that job of a school teacher is equivalent to that of a DGP. Do you think the job of the village officer at Pallivasal in Munnar, where all the eviction moves are going, is not significant?” he asks.

He also points out that the HC’s complaint against him was of doing too much rather than too little. “I was the happiest when Justice Ubaid made the remark. I was happy that the Court acknowledged that the VACB was functioning well, not that it was inept or I was corrupt,” he says.  



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