Court orders FIR against Chandy

Kerala power minister also in trouble

Court orders FIR against Chandy

The solar scam case snowballed into a crisis for the Congress-led government in Kerala on Thursday after a vigilance court in Thrissur ordered filing of an FIR against Chief Minister Oommen Chandy based on fresh bribery allegations by key accused in the case, Saritha S Nair.

The court directed the police to file the FIR against Chandy and others, including Power Minister Aryadan Mohammed, while hearing a petition by social activist P D Joseph, based on revelations made by Saritha on Wednesday, during her deposition before the judicial commission probing the scam.

After hectic late-evening discussions involving senior Congress leaders in Kochi, Chandy said “private petitions” would be filed in the Kerala High Court on Friday challenging what party leaders called a “hasty” vigilance court order.

Following the vigilance court order and protests by the CPM-led opposition, Chandy will have his task cut out as he builds his defence three months ahead of the Assembly election.  Saritha had told the G Sivarajan Commission on Wednesday that she had paid Rs 1.9 crore to Chandy through one of his aides and Rs 40 lakh to Aryadan Mohammed in return for favourable decisions on projects her company, Team Solar, was proposing.

Extraordinary order

The court termed is decision “extraordinary” but necessary in an “extraordinary situation”.

The Congress in Delhi, meanwhile, made it clear that it will back Chandy and said he need not resign “for now”. “There is no need for Chandy to resign... This is election time in Kerala and mischievous and malicious allegations will continue to fly. Such allegations have not come for the first time,” Randeep Singh Surjewala, in-charge of AICC media department, told reporters.

As the news of the vigilance court ordering registration of an FIR against Chandy trickled in, Congress president Sonia Gandhi summoned senior leaders A K Antony and Mukul Wasnik, the AICC General Secretary in-charge of Kerala, to discuss the developments.

The central leaders decided against taking any precipitate action as Chandy still has the option of moving a higher court against the vigilance court order.

That the Kerala High Court suspended a similar vigilance court order against former excise minister K Babu in the bar bribery case also raised hopes of Chandy getting relief.

In Kerala, Left-affiliated protestors waved black flags at the chief minister during events he attended in Kozhikode and Malappuram on Thursday. Activists of DYFI and BJP-affiliated Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha staged protests. In Thiruvananthapuram, protestors clashed with the police near the State Secretariat.

The police used water cannons and grenades. A lathicharge left some of the activists with minor injuries. The court said FIR should be registered even before a preliminary verification of the charges.

It was the same court which had ordered an FIR against bar bribery scam accused K Babu, leading to his resignation as Excise Minister.

Chandy dismissed talks of a resignation. “Why should I resign? I’m ready to face any investigation,” he said in Malappuram. “I will discuss the matter with coalition partners, the Congress High Command and take a suitable decision,” he said.

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