South Asia

India vigilance chief facing axe

India's Supreme Court has sought an explanation from the federal vigilance commissioner on why his recent appointment should not be cancelled.

PJ Thomas was appointed in September by a three-member panel, which included the prime minister.

He is accused in a case of corruption when he was a senior bureaucrat in 1992. He denies the allegations.

The court is hearing a number of public interest litigations contesting Mr Thomas's appointment.

Questions have been raised about whether Mr Thomas should continue as head of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), which monitors government corruption.

He was secretary in the telecommunications ministry around the time in 2009 when controversial licences were being given out to mobile phone firms.

The telecommunications ministry is accused of issuing 2G licences on a "first-come, first-served" basis instead of auctioning them, costing the government billions of dollars in lost revenue.

The sale is being scrutinised by India's Central Bureau of Investigation, which reports to the CVC.

There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by Mr Thomas during his time in the ministry, but critics say his new role raises a potential conflict of interest.

Telecommunications minister A Raja quit last month, denying allegations that he had undersold mobile phone licences.

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