Court order in Nelliampathy estates case
The Thrissur Vigilance Court on Tuesday ordered an investigation into the charges that Law Minister K.M. Mani and Government Chief Whip P.C. George had gone out of the way to help the owners of five private estates in Nelliampathy the lease term of which had ended.
Vigilance Special Judge V. Bhaskaran directed Palakkad Vigilance Deputy Superintendent of Police to investigate the charges and submit a report within December 14. The order was issued on the basis of five petitions filed by Malayala Vedi president George Vattukulam.
The petitions said Mr. Mani and Mr. George had misused their official position to help the owners of the Cherunelli, Toothenpara, Rajakkad, Meera Flour, and Mankodu estates, perpetrated corruption, and misled the Assembly and the public in the context of the government’s move to take over the estates.
“The High Court had withheld the takeover. The Advocate General did not appear in the High Court though it was an important case. The government pleader having not submitted an affidavit in the court and not adopting a stand favourable to the Forest Department had sparked off a controversy. Mr. Mani intervened and ensured that the government lost the case in order to help the owners of the estates. The government should have appealed against the High Court verdict, but it did not. The Law Department did not take any step in this regard,” the petitions stated.
The petitions alleged that Mr. George misled the Assembly and the public on the Nelliampathy issue. “All his statements were in favour of the owners of the estates.”
The petitions alleged that some of the forestland leased to the owners had been sold to other private parties.
“Forged documents have been used for registering land. The government had granted the land on lease for cultivation of coffee and cardamom. But rubber is cultivated in many estates. The forestland has been pledged by the owners to secure bank loans. Through loans sanctioned by nationalised banks to them, the government lost Rs.5 crore,” he added.
The petitioner maintained that a subcommittee appointed to look into the complaints related to lease of government land had not met even one year after its formation. The petitions demanded action against Mr. Mani and Mr. George under Sections 7, 8, 9, and 10 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The court also took up a petition filed by P.D. Joseph alleging that the Chandramala, Victoria, Kottangadi, and East Pullala estates had grabbed forestland. The court directed the petitioner to furnish relevant documents. The petition would be taken up for further hearing on December 24.