The UDF government,already on the backfoot in solar panel scam,today faced some uncomfortable questions from the Kerala High Court over whether a probe was not required to ascertain if any cheating was involved with knowledge of Chief Minister Oomen Chandy. Making some sharp observations against the Congress-led UDF government in two separate cases relating to the scam,the High Court also expressed dissatisfaction at the progress in investigations. Opposition LDF seized on the observations,calling it “very serious” and demanded immediate resignation of Chandy. “The critical observations made against Chandy by two benches on the same day are serious and rare and we demand resignation of the Chief Minister without waiting for a moment,” CPI-M state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram.
While considering the bail application of TV actress Shalu Menon,an accused in the case,Justice S S Satheeshchandran expressed dissatisfaction at the manner in which the police inquiry was progressing without co-ordination. The judge said the court would not hesitate to have the presence of ADGP A Hemachandran,who heads the SIT probing the case,in the court. The court sought to know where the money collected by the accused in solar panel cheating case had gone and whether those who lost the money would get it back. Saritha Nair,an accused in the case,had yesterday informed the Economic Offences Court that she wanted to give a written version of her statement to the magistrate.
The judge asked if the SIT was aware of this fact and what were the reasons for the non-disclosure of this to the Kothamangalam Magistrate Court. Considering a plea by businessman M K Kuruvila seeking a crime branch investigation on his complaint in connection with the solar case,another judge V K Mohan observed whether an inquiry was not required to find out if the cheating had taken place with the knowledge of the Chief Minister. Kuruvila,a Bangalore-based planter,had complained that two persons,one of them claiming to be a relative of Chandy as well as a member of his personal staff,defrauded him of over Rs one crore by offering to install solar panels. He submitted that he had made the complaint to the Chief Minister,who,in turn,forwarded it to the DGP. However,the matter was not being investigated effectively by the police,he alleged. Kurvila submitted that one Andrew and Renjith were those who approached him and cheated him. The bail application of Shalu Menon was adjourned to tomorrow.
The Chief Minister’s office has been under cloud since the scam broke out last month. CPI-M leader Pinari Vijayan said the court had actually expressed its deep displeasure at the investigators’ reluctance to inquire the role of Chandy in the solar case and attempts of SIT to allegedly manipulate the probe to cover up the truth. It had now become clear that efforts had been made by police to prevent the scam accused Saritha Nair from giving a written statement to a court in Kochi,as wished by her,he said,adding,that was why she was produced the next day at another court and remanded. There was also sufficient grounds to suspect that higherups in the government had gathered details of the statement she had made by the magistrate in-camera,he said. Holding that the LDF’s campaign for the resignation of Chandy had been vindicated by the latest development,the CPI(M) leader said if Chandy was left with a modicum of moral and legal uprightness,he should step down instantly and order a judicial probe into the scam. He also said there had been precedents of Chief Ministers opting this course when faced with strictures and adverse observations from the court.