Stung by State Vigilance Director Jacob Thomas’s alleged moves targeting top babus including additional chief secretaries, the IAS officers in Kerala have finally decided to break the silence and to take leave en masse on Monday as a token of protest. This unprecedented move by the IAS lobby comes just a day after the State Vigilance and Anti-corruption Bureau (VACB) filed FIR against Additional Chief Secretary Paul Antony in the nepotism row that involved former minister EP Jayarajan. 


 Besides this, the anti-corruption watchdog had initiated the probe against some top bureaucrats in corruption cases that apparently annoyed the influential IAS-IPS lobby. A meeting of the IAS Officers Association held at Kerala capital on Saturday decided to register its strong protest as a warning to the state government which it believed was backing the VACB director. 


Interestingly, the unusual protest of the IAS lobby against an IPS officer has put the Left government in a fix. Even though the protest is against the Vigilance Chief, the Pinarayi Vijayan government is facing the heat. The top bureaucrats also criticised the government for supporting the VACB chief. 

 
 “We are requesting our colleagues of the Kerala IAS to avail one day’s casual leave on January 9, 2017, to express our sadness, frustration, and professional dissatisfaction and to show our solidarity with our aggrieved colleagues, in allowing the present Vigilance Director to continue abusing his powers,” the press note released by the Association said. The District Collectors, Sub-Collectors and officials in charge of law and order and other emergency duties are exempted from the protest. But the association has requested them to be on duty while taking a day’s casual leave in solidarity with their fellow officials, who are being ‘targeted.’  


 
By including Paul Antony as an accused in the case related to the appointment of the former minister EP Jayarajan, the VACB has declared an unjustified war against bureaucrats, the officers felt. Antony was just obeying written orders of the minister, and it is not a violation of any Act or statute. The criminal case against Antony is a ‘motivated and vindictive retaliation,’ the association opined.

 

 Antony had registered his strong objections in the arrest of K. Padmakumar, former Managing Director, Malabar Cements Limited, in a corruption case. 

 

The top babus also felt that the government was giving Jacob Thomas all support despite allegations against him. The government has not taken any action against the Vigilance Director despite documents clearly show that the Vigilance Director caused the loss of   Rs.35-50 crore to the government when he was the Director of Ports Department.

 

The VACB had grilled Additional Chief Secretary Tom Jose in connection with a disproportionate corruption case on Thursday. Earlier, the bureau had raided the residences of the bureaucrat.

Also read: Don't expect mercy, Kerala's new Vigilance chief warns the corrupt
 

Even as the IAS Association declared an open war against Vigilance Director, an activist submitted a petition to Governor P Sathasivam with serious allegations against Jacob Thomas. In the petition, PA Rahim, a social worker, alleged that the IPS officer is sitting on a complaint he filed against the appointment of the present Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's wife in the State Literacy Mission during the period of former Left government. Even though complaint on the appointment of relatives of ministers and political leaders during the VS Achuthanandan government was filed months back, the Vigilance Director did not take any step to investigate it, he complained. He also requested the Governor to invoke his special powers and prompt the VACB to start an investigation. 

Also read: 'Hunted' by top Babus, Kerala Vigilance Chief seeks whistle blower cover


Expecting a backlash from the IAS lobby, Jacob Thomas, known for his anti-corruption crusades, had approached the government seeking whistleblower status in November last year. The officer sought cover under the Whistleblower Protection Act after he came under criticism from some sections of top bureaucrats and politicians in the state following a  crack down on the corrupt.