The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) has filed a case against the Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) secretary, T.C. Mathew, and 15 others citing corruption in connection with the purchase of land for the proposed KCA stadium at Edakochi in Ernakulam district.

In an FIR lodged before the Court of Enquiry and Special Judge (Vigilance), Thrissur, last Monday, the VACB has charged KCA officials of entering into a conspiracy with the owners of the land to cause financial loss of Rs. 85,94,388 to the association through purchase of 23.95 acres of land, the sale deed of which was executed on April 4, 2009.

The VACB, which had conducted its inquiry based on the direction of the Thrissur court upon a petition filed by the human rights activist Joy Kaitharath, in its FIR also states that KCA officials had misused their official position in the purchase of the land, thus causing a financial loss to the association, which is a public body. The KCA officials and the others involved have been charged under relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, and the Indian Penal Code.

Other accused

Besides Mr. Mathew, the other accused named in the FIR are T.R. Balakrishnan (KCA president), S. Haridas (KCA vice-president), T.N. Ananthanarayanan (KCA joint secretary), G. Sajikumar (KCA treasurer), Karthik Varma (KCA Finance Committee chairman), Jayesh George (Ernakulam DCA secretary), T.K. Madhav (KCA stadium committee member), K. Sathish (Ernakulam DCA president), A.V. Thomas (KCA Legal Committee chairman), Joseph Varghese (Managing Partner, Infrastructure Ventures, Kochi) and Kuriyachan Chacko, Achamma Chacko, Neeta Kuriyachan, Linu Joy and Joy John (all landowners).

Allegation

In his petition filed on June 13, 2009, Mr. Joy Kaitharath had alleged widespread corruption to the tune of Rs.19.14 crore in the purchase of the land by the KCA, besides flouting of relevant provisions of the Kerala Sports Act, 2000, the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Indian Penal Code.

Asked about the huge difference of the amounts stated in the original petition and the FIR, a top VACB source told The Hindu on Thursday said the loss of 85.94 lakh was just a preliminary assessment and this could very well go up once further investigation was taken up. The primary conclusion of the VACB was that the KCA had gone ahead with the purchase of land in variance with the conditions spelt out in the Expression of Interest it had sought for from possible sellers of land and without any legal sanction, either from the relevant authorities or its own general body.

After the case

Further, it was stated that the KCA should have stopped itself from buying the land once a case was registered by the Divisional Forest Officer, Muvattupuzha, for destroying mangroves in the identified plot for which the association had by then made a preliminary payment of Rs.10 crore. The case by the DFO, Muvattupuzha, should have amply made it clear to the KCA that sanction from the Union Ministry of Environment would be required.