Thiruvananthapuram: Vigilance and Anti- Corruption Bureau Director Jacob Thomas, whose functioning style often courted controversy, was asked today to go on leave after the Kerala High Court criticised him recently.
DGP Loknath Behra has been given additional charge of the Vigilance bureau, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s office sources said today.
Thomas was asked to go on leave primarily after the high court criticised him over various cases pending before it, the sources said adding he is unlikely to return to his former post.
The development has come as a surprise as Chief Minister Vijayan had all along been supporting Thomas despite senior bureaucrats’ displeasure over his functioning style.
They had even threatened to go on mass casual leave alleging that Thomas was acting with vendetta.
While hearing last month a case on appointment of N Shanker Reddy as vigilance director by the previous UDF government, the high court had wondered ‘if a vigilance raj’ prevailed in the state.
The court had also recently asked why the government was not removing the official and how it could go forward with him.
The Congress-led opposition UDF had come out against Thomas and said due to the tussle between the IPS officer and senior IAS officers, the state administration had come to a standstill.
Thomas’ stand on a case of nepotism against former Industries Minister E P Jayarajan had invited the ire of ruling CPI(M) also.
Two additional chief secretaries, K M Abraham and Tom Jose, too had lodged a complaint with the chief minister against Thomas after vigilance department conducted raids on their residences in disproportionate assets case.
They had asserted that the raids were meant only to insult them publicly.
Reacting to the development, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala had said the chief minister should explain as to why did he remove Thomas suddenly after ‘protecting’ him until now.