A vigilance court in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday posted the trial in the multi-crore palmolein import case, involving Central Vigilance Commissioner P.J. Thomas, to January 25.
The Kerala government's legal advisor informed the trial court that the official communication from the Supreme Court, which had on Tuesday vacated a stay on the trial (See: Supreme Court clears way for trial of CVC chief in Kerala), was still awaited.
Key documents relating to the 10-year case were also with the apex court in Delhi and would take time to reach the state capital, it was argued.
Kerala's vigilance and anti-corruption bureau filed a charge-sheet in the trial court in 2003 against Thomas and seven other persons - including former state chief minister K. Karunakaran - accusing them of causing a loss of Rs2.32 crore to the state exchequer, while importing 15,000 tonnes of palmolein oil from a Singapore firm.
Karunakaran - who died last month - was the Congress chief minister in 1991 when the oil was imported by the state government and Thomas was the food secretary and member of the Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation Board. Both Karunakaran and Thomas accused the Left front government of political victimisation and claimed their innocence.
Karunakaran also filed an appeal in the Supreme Court in 2007, and obtained a stay on the proceedings in the trial court in the state capital. Following his death, the court vacated the stay.
The opposition parties, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have been gunning for Thomas ever since he was appointed to the top vigilance post in Delhi. The ruling United Progressive Alliance government has, however, defended him strongly.
The Centre for Public Interest Litigation had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court questioning his appointment as the CVC chief. According to the NGO, the government has established guidelines that prohibit the promotion of officers against whom a criminal charge-sheet is pending.