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Updated: February 26, 2011 13:32 IST

Palmolein case takes political turn as polls are close

PTI
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Leader of Opposition and senior Congress leader Oommen Chandy. File Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar
The Hindu Leader of Opposition and senior Congress leader Oommen Chandy. File Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

In a new development in the palmolein import graft case, Kerala’s LDF Government on Saturday filed a petition seeking further probe holding that some more persons were likely to become accused in the case, seen an apparent move to drag in Congress leader Oommen Chandy in the case.

The petition filed in the Special Vigilance Court hearing the case, in which Central Vigilance Commissioner P.J. Thomas is also an accused, the government said the investigation agency proposed to conduct further probe in the matter regarding the involvement of other persons, who were likely to become accused in the case.

The name of Mr. Chandy, who was finance minister in the UDF Ministry headed by late K. Karunakaran which cleared the deal in 1992, came up in connection with a discharge petition filed by the then Food Minister T.H. Mustafa, the second accused in the case.

In his petition, Mr. Mustafa held that it was fair to have spared Mr. Chandy in the case, but the same yardstick of fairness had not been not applied in his case.

Mr. Mustafa had said in his petition that the prosecution rightly did not find fault with Mr. Chandy but unjustly arraigned him as an accused.

Mr. Mustafa’s counsel, however, opposed the government petition saying that the contents of his discharge petition was wilfully distorted and misused for political gains.

The Judge S. Jagadeesh posted the hearing on the petition for March 7.

Seizing on Mr. Mustafa’s petition, the LDF Government has of late made veiled threats of arraigning Mr. Chandy, a Chief Ministerial contender of the UDF, as an accused in the case.

The case related alleged corruption in importing palmolein from Malaysia, which allegedly caused a loss to the tune of Rs. 2.32 core in 1991-92 when late congress leader K. Karunarakan was the Chief Minister and P.J. Thomas the Food Secretary and a member of the Board of the Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation.

Mr. Thomas has been listed as the eighth accused in the chargesheet filed by the Vigilance and Anti-corruption Bureau in 2003.

According to the chargesheet, filed under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Indian Penal Code, the caused accused the exchequer a loss of Rs. 2.32 crore by importing palmolein through a Malaysia based firm at exorbitant rates.


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