HC stays vigilance court order against Chandy

HC stays vigilance court order against Chandy

HC stays vigilance court order against Chandy

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy got a temporary relief on Friday when the High Court suspended for two months a vigilance court order directing a probe and FIR against him in the solar scam case.

The relief came even as key accused in the case, Saritha S Nair, targeted the chief minister’s son with fresh allegations.

The vigilance court had, on Thursday, ordered a probe against Chandy, Power Minister Aryadan Mohammed and others based on a petition by social activist P D Joseph in the wake of Saritha’s allegations.

Chandy and Mohammed had approached the Kerala High Court with private petitions challenging the order.

While ordering the suspension, High Court judge P Ubaid slammed the “irresponsible” action of Enquiry Commissioner and Special Judge (Vigilance) in Thrissur S S Vasan.

The vigilance court’s “hasty” order had run into criticism by senior Congress leaders who demanded a probe into “a conspiracy”. Saritha had told the Sivarajan Commission, which is probing the fraud, that she paid Rs 1.9 crore to Chandy and Rs 40 lakh to Mohammed as bribe.

Finding serious faults in the vigilance court order, the high court averred that the vigilance judge, who said that it is acting as a post office, has not understood the law as well as the powers of the Vigilance Court.
Noting that the complaint filed before the Vigilance Court does not contain the necessary material, the high court observed that the Vigilance Court should not have passed the order. “If this order is allowed to stand, that may lead to untoward consequences,” the high court said.

The high court said a serious examination is necessary as the matter involves question of law regarding sanction for registration of crime under Prevention of Corruption Act and the nature and extent of the jurisdiction of Vigilance Court.

Reacting to the high court stay, Chandy said “truth would prevail” and reiterated that the allegations against him were baseless. “Right from the beginning, these allegations were being made without even a sheet of paper as evidence. A lobby of bar owners miffed with the government’s liquor policy has joined hands with the accused in this shameful conspiracy,” he told reporters.

Chandy said the political situation in the state was evolving. The crisis on Thursday was resolved by an “unprecedented” high court order, he said.

The chief minister reiterated that he had extended no favour to the accused and had come to know of their fraudulent business only after their arrest.

The Congress party, despite voices of criticism from the ‘I’ faction of the party, rallied behind Chandy after the high court order. Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president V M Sudheeran said in Alappuzha that the opposition CPM’s efforts to back conspirators in the case were condemnable.

Meanwhile, Saritha, during her deposition before the judicial commission probing the scam, said on Friday that the chief minister had discussed with her plans for a renewable energy firm with his son, Chandy Oommen, at the helm.

She said the chief minister’s son was involved with another woman accused in the solar fraud. She did not disclose the name of the woman but said former Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan was in possession of digital evidence, seized after the woman’s arrest. Radhakrishnan has denied the charge.

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