Procedure not followed for palmolein import in 1990s: Jiji Thomson

Tuesday, Jun 2, 2015,22:09 IST By metrovaartha A A A

Thiruvananthapuram | In a remark on the decades old politically sensitive palmolein import case that could trigger a row, Kerala Chief Secretary Jiji Thomson today said the cabinet decision of the then Congress-led UDF government in this regard was implemented without following proper procedure.
Thomson, who was the State Civil Supplies Corporation MD at the time of import in 1991-92 and also an accused in the palmolein case, said It was the duty of a civil servant to implement cabinet decision. I also wrote a dissent note saying that its import was not proper as tender was not called for.
Cabinet of state has decided to import 15,000 tonnes of palmolein from Malaysia and ‘I have no other options, but to execute it’, Thomson, said while explaining the constrains of civil servants at a meet organised by Press Club here. A civil servant can only point out certain things. It is for the cabinet to take decision.
Once a decision is taken, it was the duty of the IAS officer to implement it, he said. It is for this that I am being charged with conspiracy in the case, he added. Asked to elaborate on the procedures followed to import palmolein following a cabinet decision, Thomson quipped If let to myself, I think, it is wrong.
After the present UDF government came to power, it decided to withdraw the prosecution in the case holding that it was politically motivated. Besides, the state had not incurred any loss due to the import and had in fact earned profit of about Rs 7 crore in the deal. However, Kerala High Court rejected government plea to withdraw the case, being pursued by CPI-M veteran and state Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan.
The court had also dismissed a plea by Jiji Thomson to discharge him from the case. The matter is now pending before the Supreme Court. The case relates to alleged irregularities in the import of palmolein from a Malaysian company in Singapore by the then K Karunakaran-led UDF government in 1991-92.
The opposition had raised a hue and cry and a vigilance case was filed against Karunakaran and seven others, including Jiji Thomson, who was then the Managing Director of Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation.