The Kerala High Court Friday made the Enforcement Directorate (ED) a party to the case involving allegations of money laundering against former PWD minister VK Ebrahim Kunju and asked the agency to probe the case.
Kunju, a leader of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) which is a key constituent of the Congress-led UDF, is accused of depositing Rs 10 crores into the bank accounts of IUML’s mouthpiece Chandrika when high-value currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 were banned by the BJP government at the Centre in November 2016.
Justice Sunil Thomas passed the order on Kunju in response to a PIL petition by Kalamassery-native Girish Babu seeking an investigation against the IUML leader for allegedly attempting to convert black money. The petitioner alleged that the Income Tax department only imposed a fine for the unaccounted transaction and did not proceed into a probe or take action against the accused. At the same time, the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau of the state government said it was clear from their investigation that unaccounted money was deposited into the bank accounts.
In an earlier statement, Chandrika managing director Panakkad Syed Hyder Ali Shihab Thangal had said the allegations against Kunju were baseless. He said the transactions being wrongly portrayed were actually part of routine long-term subscriber funds collected by the newspaper management.
Kunju, who was the PWD minister during the UDF government between 2011-2016, is also under the Vigilance scanner for his alleged involvement in the Palarivattom flyover corruption case. The flyover at Pipeline Junction in Kochi was shut down in May this year, just three years after its commissioning, following the development of cracks on the structure. Separate probes by the Vigilance and the IIT Madras teams found that the contractor had not used sufficient construction materials in the building of the flyover. Vigilance officials have hinted at a conspiracy behind the release of mobilisation advance to the contractor by the PWD department.