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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Former Kerala CM Oommen Chandy faces Vigilance probe in solar scam

Announcing the decision after a Cabinet meeting, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said criminal and corruption cases would also be registered against Chandy.

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram | Published: October 12, 2017 4:33:07 am
oommen chandy solar scam, kerala solar scam, oommen chandy, pinarayi vijayan, solar scam, cpi(m), kerala government, oommen chandy, oommen chandy case, congress, oommen chandy multi-crore solar scam, saritha s nair, ldf, kerala news, solar scam, india news, indian express Former Chief Minister of Kerala Oommen Chandy (PTI/ File photo)

TWO WEEKS after a judicial panel set up to probe the multi-crore solar scam submitted its report, the Kerala government on Wednesday decided to order a Vigilance probe against former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, his former Power Minister Aryadan Muhammed, and four of his former aides.

Announcing the decision after a Cabinet meeting, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said criminal and corruption cases would also be registered against Chandy, his former aides and nearly a dozen senior Congress leaders, including a few former ministers.

The government has also decided to file rape cases against Chandy, Muhammed, former state ministers A P Anil Kumar, Adoor Prakash, former union ministers K C Venugopal and S S Palanimanickam, MLA Hybi Eden, party leader N Subramanian, MP Jose K Mani and senior IPS officer K Padma Kumar — all reported to have been named by prime accused Saritha S Nair in a letter dated July 17, 2013 alleging sexual abuse.

Vijayan said corruption cases under Sections 7, 8, 9, 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act would be registered against Chandy, his former aides Tenny Joppen, Jikkumon Jacob, Salim Raj and Thomas Kuruvila, and Muhammed, based on the commission’s findings that they had taken bribe from Nair.

The single-member Justice G Sivarajan Commission was appointed by the previous Congress government in October 2013 to probe the scam.

Former home minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan will also face criminal charges following the commission’s report that he interfered in the police probe in an attempt to destroy evidence against Chandy.

According to the commission, the special investigation team set up to probe the case tried to clear Chandy and failed to probe the role of then state and central ministers, legislators, MPs, bureaucrats and police officials.

The government has decided to register criminal cases against Additional DGP K Padmakumar and DSP K Harikrishnan, who conducted the initial probe. DGP (Crime) A Hemachandran, who led the SIT, will also face probe.

The government will also order a further investigation into two cheating cases registered against Chandy, Tenny Joppen, Jikkumon and Salim Raj, as per Section 173 (8) of Cr PC.

Former Congress MLA Benny Behanan and senior Congress leader Thampanoor Ravi, who are alleged to have interfered in the probe and tried to destroy evidence, will also face criminal charges.

Reacting to the government’s decision, Chandy said he was not afraid of any probe. “No independent witness has given any statement against me. I haven’t committed any crime. Why should I fear the probe,’’ he said.

Claiming that the purported letter sent by Nair when she was behind bars was fabricated, he said: “Let the Chief Minister release the entire probe report. Only then will the truth come out.”

When contacted, Nair said: “Finally, there is justice, although delayed. I stick to what I had stated against Chandy and the others. I had only pointed out the hardships I faced. I am happy that the commission has accepted my stand.”

The scam pertains to a bunch of cheating cases, in which Nair and co-accused Biju Radhakrishnan are alleged to have siphoned off crores from investors after promising to supply solar energy solutions and windmill projects to households and offices. They are reported to have claimed high-level connections in the then Congress government. Chandy’s office came under cloud when three of his personal aides were found to be involved in the scam by a police probe. Nair was arrested in June 2013, and released on bail eight months later.

CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said Chandy and the other Congress leaders should demit all posts in the wake of the commission’s findings.

Meanwhile, senior Congress leader A K Antony questioned the timing, pointing out that the government announced its decision on the day of the bypoll in an Assembly seat.

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