There is good news for many and bad for some. Jacob Thomas will no longer be the nightmare keeping awake many who thought they were too high and mighty to be bothered about laws of the land. The bad news is for those who thought there was finally somebody who would give the corrupt sleepless nights and stand up to their machinations. Thomas, Kerala’s director of vigilance and anti-corruption bureau, always walked the knife’s edge, a real sharp one at that. He had launched investigations against former ministers and several senior bureaucrats, most of them far above him the way government protocol works. No wonder there were forces inimical to him.

Thomas decided to step aside following the oral remarks of a high court judge. They were made in an open court. The remarks had nothing to do with the law in the case before him. Apparently, it was said why the government can’t remove Thomas from office. In several previous cases involving vigilance, the judge had made offhand remarks targeting the director. The fact is most of these remarks bordered on the churlish and were not part of any order. That Pinarayi Vijayan, Kerala’s chief minister, decided to ask Thomas to step aside based on these remarks shows how weak his own resolve to fight corruption is. There is reason to suspect that Vijayan was waiting for an opportunity to get rid of Thomas whose bold stand was causing him problems in governing the state.

Of course Jacob Thomas became an anti-corruption icon in Kerala after several bold investigations that he launched against the high and mighty including two former ministers are several senior bureaucrats. It is no secret that the state bureaucracy was split down the middle over Thomas. If anything, he was one police official who rewrote the script for many top officials. In Kerala, where the political class is in it together with big business and bureaucracy forming a cozy club that divides government money, few have stood up to corruption. With two coalitions, the present ruling Left Democratic Front and the main opposition United Democratic Front, alternating in the government, it is well known that this cozy ties cut through political allegiance. Thus, vested interests have over decades grown like moss on the corridors of power irrespective who is in power. Otherwise there is no reason why there is hardly any progress in corruption cases when the parties who used them for campaign ascend to office.

So that is the requiem for another upright officer’s brief but momentous stint in office.