VS says the government has withdrawn the palmolein case only to avert trial of Chandy.

Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan has said that the Oommen Chandy government’s decision to withdraw the palmolein import case violated several related court verdicts.

Terming the government decision ‘illegal’, Mr. Achuthanandan said in a statement here on Thursday that Mr. Chandy was resorting to the measure to save his skin by whatever means possible. The Chief Minister’s attempt was to ‘whitewash’ a corrupt deal carried out in breach of all laws and rules, he said.

Mr. Achuthanandan termed ‘strange’ Mr. Chandy’s contention that the State exchequer had not suffered any loss and pointed out that the Kerala Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee chaired by Congress leader M.M. Hassan had, in its report submitted to the House on March 29, 1996, stated that this contention was an ‘absolute nonsense’. The Committee had rejected the argument that the State had profited from the deal as palmolein was imported during 1991-’92 at Rs.30 a kg when the market price was only Rs.16 a kg.

He said the Committee had also rejected Mr. Chandy’s other claim that the then Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation Managing Director Giji Thomson was not guilty of any wrongdoing. The Committee had concluded that he had protected the interests of foreign companies rather than those of the State.

Mr. Achuthanandan said Mr. Thomson had signed the agreement with the foreign company even before the government order for the import was issued.

Referring to the Chief Minister’s argument that the LDF government had not replied to the Central Vigilance Commission’s communication exonerating Mr. Thomson and others, Mr. Achuthanandan asked how the CVC could exonerate someone against whom charge sheet was under the consideration of a court. The Supreme Court had accepted the charge sheet filed in the case in 2000. It had also rejected Mr. Thomson’s discharge petition in the interim and held that prima facie the charge sheet was valid. Given all this, the government had taken the decision to withdraw the case only because of the possibility of Mr. Chandy would also have to face trial in the case, the Opposition Leader said.

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