Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan has termed “a challenge to the legal system and the public” the move to withdraw the signboard case, related to alleged corruption in awarding of the contract for installing signboards on highways and other major roads during the tenure of the previous UDF government.
In a statement here on Friday, Mr. Achuthanandan said the decision that came on the eve of Mr. Chandy's government completing one year in office revealed the government's approach to corruption. It was the late T.M. Jacob who had alleged in the Assembly that the deal involved a loss of Rs.500 crore to the State exchequer by means of underhand deals involving Mr. Chandy and others. It had to be noted that Mr. Jacob's son was now a member of Mr. Chandy's cabinet. Mr. Chandy, similar to his approach in the palmolein case, had issued orders for withdrawal of the case in 2005-2006, but the Vigilance, which had found evidence for corruption in the case, had then refused to do so.
In the palmolein case, the then Vigilance chief Desmond Netto had in court given Mr. Chandy a clean chit, significantly on May 13 when it had become clear that the UDF would form a government. However, the court had refused to accept this and ordered more investigations, following which the Thiruvananthapuram Vigilance judge who ordered further probes was insulted, threatened and eventually forced to withdraw from hearing the case.
What followed was a farce and once again, a report that absolved Mr. Chandy from the case was submitted in the Thrissur Vigilance Court, Mr. Achuthanandan said.
Stating that the Titanium corruption case too was facing similar sabotage attempts, Mr. Achuthanandan demanded that the government revoke the application submitted in the court to withdraw the signboard case and initiate steps to take the investigation forward in an impartial manner.