Chandy faces fresh probe in corruption case

Chandy faces fresh probe in corruption case

Opposition demands chief ministers' s resignation for fair investigation

Chandy faces fresh probe in corruption case

In a serious setback to Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, a vigilance court here on Thursday ordered a fresh probe into a decade-old corruption case with him as the first respondent. 

The court also rejected a Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) enquiry report on the alleged corruption in installing an Rs 256 crore effluent treatment system at the state-owned Travancore Titanium Products Limited (TTPL), which cleared Chandy of any wrong doing. 

Chandy had allegedly favoured Mecon Ltd to implement the project in 2005, when the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) government was in power. The state’s Left-led opposition alleged that Mecon was favoured over proposals to implement the project for a significantly lower cost.

The chief minister had allegedly written to a Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee favouring Mecon ahead of a Cabinet clearance for the proposal. 

While considering petitions by former TTPL employee S Jayan, the vigilance court also directed the VACB to include Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, the then Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president, and public works minister V K Ibrahim Kunju, the then industries minister, among the 11 respondents in the case and submit a report in four months. 

The court order is a major setback to the UDF government already reeling under internal rift over several issues including the government’s new liquor policy that envisages phased prohibition in the state over 10 years. The CPI(M)-led opposition said Chandy and Chennithala should quit office and face a CBI investigation. 

Leader of the Opposition V S Achuthanandan called the order a “severe blow” to Chandy. “The Chief Minister should resign and face the probe because any investigation conducted by government agencies while he remains in office is pointless,” he told reporters here.