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Kerala Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau on Friday conducted searches at the residential premises of senior IAS officer Tom Jose and in Kochi in connection with a disproportionate assets case. Besides two flats owned by Jose, the searches were being conducted at his wife’s house in Irinjalakudu also, Vigilance sources said, adding the action was being taken after obtaining a search warrant.
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The action was initiated this morning following registration of an FIR against Jose, who is the Principal Labour Secretary, on a complaint by one Payichira Nawaz filed in the Vigilance Special Court at Muvattupuzha in Kochi, they said. Dubbing the searches as a ‘deliberate attempt to humiliate me,” Jose said the allegations, being raised now, were inquired and closed much earlier.
All these issues were examined by the Home Secretary much earlier. “I had given my property statement from 2010. There is nothing new.” The Vigilance sources said the ‘house search’ was conducted after it was found that the official had “amassed” assets about 62 per cent more than his income.
Vigilance had last month decided to conduct a confidential verification into the allegations raised by the complainant about various assets of Jose, including the purchase of a rubber estate at a cost of about Rs 1.23 crore at Sindudurg in Maharashtra.
Jose, who had met Chief Secretary S M Vijayanand yesterday, said, “we had discussed all these issues.” Jose, who is also the President of the Kerala IAS Officers’ Association, said the searches were being conducted as a ‘retaliatory action’ to ‘malign’ him. “The (earlier) enquiry against me was conducted by State Home Secretary, who is a very responsible officer,” he said. Jose said there was nothing “unanatural” in the deal. The searches against Jose come a day after Finance Secretary and Additional Chief Secretary K M Abraham lodged a complaint with Chief Minister Pinaravyi Vijayan that Vigilance carried out an ‘inspection’ at his home.
Abraham has alleged that state Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau Director Jacob Thomas was acting “vengefully” against him.