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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Solar scam: Oommen Chandy, Congress men named in probe into sex charge, bribes

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan tabled the 1,073-page report, along with the Memorandum of Action taken by the government, in the state assembly at a special session on Thursday.

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram | Published: November 10, 2017 4:31:07 am
Congress, solar scam, Oommen Chandy, Pinarayi Vijayan, Congress and solar scam, Chandy and solar scam, Kerala, Indian Express news Kerala’s former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. (Express photo/File)

THE JUDICIAL commission which probed the multi-crore solar scam in Kerala has found that former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, some of his cabinet colleagues, personal staff and senior Congress leaders were “partisan’’ to main accused Saritha S Nair and her company, Team Solar, in lieu of bribe and other “illegal gratification”.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan tabled the 1,073-page report, along with the Memorandum of Action taken by the government, in the state assembly at a special session on Thursday. He said his government would initiate legal proceedings, under the Code of Criminal Procedure, IPC and Prevention of Corruption Act. A special investigation team headed by DGP (north zone) Rajesh Diwan has been set up for the purpose.

“The state government shall seriously consider the applicability of the provisions of Sections 7 (public servant taking gratification other than legal remuneration in respect of an official act), 8 (gratification to influence public servant), 9 (gratification for exercise of personal influence with public servant), and 13 (criminal misconduct of a public servant) of the Prevention of Corruption Act against all those persons against whom corruption and illegal gratification are alleged, based on the evidence produced before the commission,’’ says the report.

On Nair’s allegations of sexual exploitation, the single-member Justice G Sivarajan Commission has pointed out that “sexual satisfaction” also falls under the ambit of “illegal gratification” under the Prevention of Corruption Act. “The allegations of sexual abuse must be considered with reference to the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Under the Act, ‘illegal gratification’ need not be confined to money or any other property. Giving ‘sexual satisfaction’ is also part of ‘gratification’ under Section 7 (b) of the PCA,’’ it says.

“Regarding the letter (dated July 19, 2013, in which she made the allegations), Nair has got evidence of exploitation in respect of each dealing and telephone talk. Let case be registered and let enquiry come against them,’’ it says. “The persons mentioned in Nair’s letter… based on evidence found that they had contacts with her and her advocate over phone. It is a matter for consideration as to whether there is any truth in what Saritha S Nair has stated in the said letter,’’ it adds.

“Going by this letter, if the facts stated therein are true, then, the allegations raised in the assembly and outside as settled by the commission, have got basis and the persons dealt with in the letter, it can be seen, had assisted Team Solar and Nair in one way or the other,’’ it says.

In her letter, Nair had alleged that Chandy had taken a bribe of Rs 2.16 crore from her. She had also accused Chandy, then Congress ministers Aryadan Mohammed, A P Anil Kumar, Adoor Prakash, MLA Hybi Eden, former Union Ministers of State K C Venugopal and S S Palanimanickam, state party general secretary N Subramanian, IGP K Padmakumar, former Congress legislator A P Abdullakutty and Kerala Congress (M) MP Jose K Mani of sexual exploitation.

Kumar was also alleged to have pocketed Rs 7 lakh through his personal secretary. Palanimanickam was alleged to have received Rs 25 lakh for settling an Income Tax issue. Former Kochi Police Commissioner M R Ajith Kumar and Congress legislator P C Vishnunath were alleged to have indulged in telephone sex with Nair.

The commission has also accused senior Congress leaders Benny Behanan and Thampanoor Ravi of providing help to Nair.

The report says that Nair was in touch with Chandy, through his personal aides and security guard. “Then home minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan had made all efforts through police officers, to ensure that Chandy was extricated from criminal liability… Former power minister Aryadan Muhammed had assisted the solar firm in whatever manner possible,’’ it says.

Though the senior government pleader had submitted that sex was not the subject matter for inquiry by the judicial panel, the commission has noted that “if sex and sexual satisfaction are sought by a public servant or somebody for getting something done by a public servant in discharge of his official duties, the position is certainly different.’’

“In this case, sex and sexual satisfaction are connected with public servants who are none other than the head of the administration, the chief minister, power minister and other ministers etc named in the letter,” says the report.

The commission has also found fault with the special investigation team, headed by Additional Director General of Police A Hemachandran. “The investigating officers had no valid explanation as to why the call detail records were not examined to ascertain the involvement of Chandy and others named in the case,’’ it says.

Reacting to the development, Chandy said: “If there is an iota of fact in what has been alleged against me, I will quit public life. I am living among the people. They will not say that I have the alleged weaknesses.’’

“There were over a dozen cases against Nair during the last LDF regime. It was the Congress government that took action on the cases registered during LDF rule. Let the commission pinpoint in which case I had interfered,’’ said Radhakrishnan.

K C Venugopal said the commission has quoted the letter allegedly written by Nair. “I have already moved a defamation case against Nair, which is pending in court,’’ he said.

The scam pertains to over 30 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 his personal aides Jikkumon Jacob and Tenny Joppen, security guard Salim Raj, and unofficial aide in Delhi Thomas Kuruvila 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.

Following protests, the then Congress government had ordered a judicial probe. The commission, which examined 214 witnesses and 812 documents, submitted its report on September 20 this year.

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