Kerala High Court on Thursday rejected the state government’s petition seeking withdrawal of the infamous corruption case related to palmolein import in 1991-92.
Dismissing the petition, Justice P Ubaid said the government has the right to withdraw a case, but it should be done in public interest. “In this case, withdrawal from prosecution will not serve any public interest. Such a withdrawal would only help the accused personally or otherwise,” observed the court, adding that the prosecution can go ahead with the trial.
The government had moved the revision petition in HC after the Vigilance and Special Enquiry Court in Thrissur rejected the plea to withdraw the case in January last year.
The case had hogged headlines four years ago after one of the accused, Kerala-cadre IAS officer P J Thomas was made Chief Vigilance Commissioner. Citing the pending case, the Supreme Court had quashed Thomas’ appointment in 2011.
Incidentally, the case is back in news when another accused, IAS officer Giji Thomson, is tipped to become the next Chief Secretary when the incumbent retires at the end of this month.
The HC Thursday also rejected the discharge petition of Thomson, who was MD of State Civil Supplies Corporation at the time of the scandal.
Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan said Thomson should not be made the chief secretary as that would amount to challenging the Supreme Court verdict which led to Thomas’s exit.
It may be recalled that Achuthanandan had made Thomas Kerala’s chief secretary during the last LDF regime, when the graft case was pending. He was reluctant to elevate Thomas, but had to succumb to pressure from Kerala IAS Officers Association.
The palmolein import case was registered when Congress leader late K Karunakaran was CM. As per the prosecution case, the state had lost Rs 2.32 crore in importing palmolein from Malaysia.
The Oommen Chandy-led government in 2005 had decided to withdraw the case, but the succeeding LDF government reviewed the decision and went ahead with the prosecution.