The Ernakulam Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (Economic Offences) N.V. Raju has sought to be excused from hearing the case of solar scam accused Saritha Nair in a letter to the Chief Judicial Magistrate. The ACJM is facing a probe by the Registrar (Vigilance) of the High Court of Kerala following complaints of ‘procedural lapses’ against him. The complaints had alleged that the ACJM had broken procedure by not recording Saritha’s statement on July 20.

Soon after complaints were made against him, Mr. Raju wrote to the Chief Judicial Magistrate V. Hari Nair asking to be excused from hearing the case. The CJM kept the matter in abeyance as the charge sheet has not yet been filed in the case.

The issue broke after Saritha was brought to the ACJM (EO) court on July 20 when her remand period came to an end.

When she said she wanted to make a statement before the court, the ACJM asked all those present to leave and spoke to Saritha in the presence of just her lawyer and a court official. Saritha was reportedly asked to give any statement she may have in writing.

Saritha’s lawyer Fenny Balakrishnan told the media that Saritha had revealed the names of Cabinet Ministers involved in the scam to the magistrate.

When Balakrishnan’s request seeking to be present when Saritha wrote out her statement came up before the same court on July 26, the magistrate said in his order that he had not hear Saritha’s statement at all.

“I had neither solicited, nor elicited or permitted any statements of the accused with reference to the facts of the case,” he had said. BJP State general secretary K. Surendran was among those who accused the magistrate of procedural lapse in failing to record the statement.

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