Judge recuses from hearing palmolein import case

Judge recuses from hearing palmolein import case

Announcing his decision while taking up the case suo motu, Special Judge P K Haneefa said he had passed an order in the case on August 8 with "clear judicious consciousness and due procedure demanded."

"But, unfortunately there was some personal attack against me through the media.So, I do not think, it is fair on my part to continue to hear the case further," Haneefa said.

Haneefa said he had also requested the Kerala High court to take necessary steps to transfer the case to other courts, The case would stand posted to November 10, he said. The court had suo-motu advanced the case for today.

Meanwhile, Chandy told reporters at Kochi that no one had said anything against the judge. "I have openly said earlier also that I have no complaint against the judge," he said.

Haneefa had on August 8 ordered a probe against Chandy, who was the Finance Minister when the deal was signed, after rejecting the report filed by investigators three months ago that there was no ground for any further investigation in the case.

Ruling UDF chief whip P C George had lodged a complaint against Haneefa with the President and Supreme Court Chief Justice and had also questioned his impartiality in the case. He had also alleged that the court's only intention was to make Chandy an accused in the case.

The case pertains to import of 32,000 tonnes of palmolein from Malaysia allegedly causing a loss of Rs 2.32 crore to the state exchequer.Late Congress leader K Karunakaran was Chief Minister at that time.

When it was pointed out that George had made some scathing remarks against the judge in his complaint, Chandy said he had stated his views on the matter earlier also.
None of the parties in the case have said that they have no confidence in the judge, he added.

While Chandy, KPCC and UDF disassociated themselves from George's move, CPI-M led LDF Opposition had termed it as a move to intimidate the judiciary.

Meanwhile, the CPI-M alleged that the UDF government failed to provide protection to the judiciary in the state.

Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan charged Chandy with 'using' George to put pressure on the Special Court Judge. George's move had Chandy's blessings and encouragement, he alleged.

The government was using the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau Director Desmond Netto also to scuttle vigilance cases against congress ministers in the state, he further alleged.

Achuthanandan questioned Netto's reported recommendation to the government to give up vigilance probe against P V Sreenijan, son-in-law of former Supreme Court Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, for allegedly amassing wealth disproportionate to known sources of income.

CPI-M State Secretary Pinarayi Vijayan alleged that the judge recused himself from hearing the case due to political pressure put on him by Congress and UDF partners.

In Kozhikode, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Ramesh Chennithala said neither the UDF nor the Congress had ever criticised the judge. "Our tradition is to respect the judiciary whether the judgements are in our favour or not," he said.

"It is his (judge) personal decision. In our judiciary, a judge has got the right to hear or not to hear a case," he said pointing out to a Kerala High Court judge yesterday recusing himself when a petition filed by Jiji Thomson, an IAS officer came up for hearing.

On Achuthanandan's allegation that the judge had rescued himself from the case due to "threats", Chennithala said, "everyone in Kerala knew who had shown disrespect to judiciary. When a judgement in the palmoelin case came against the CPI(M) state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan, the party had criticised and protested against the judge". There was no need to replace P C George, Chennithala said replying to a question.