Court asks CBI to investigate two land-grab cases involving Salim Raj

The Kerala High Court on Friday observed that the alleged involvement of personal staff of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in criminal acts had raised serious questions on the functioning of the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO), for which the Chief Minister was answerable.

Justice Harun-Ul-Rashid, while ordering a CBI probe in two land grab cases, observed that these incidents had evoked shock and surprise among the people. The alleged involvement of the members of the personal staff of the CMO in criminal acts had “come to the attention of this court at multiple instances.” These incidents showed that “the authorities at the helm of affairs of the administration in the State have not been prudent and responsible in appointing personal staff with integrity and character”.

The court added that the CMO should be a model institution serving the people of the State.

Ordering a CBI probe in the land grab cases, the court pointed out that prima facie evidence of the presence of unscrupulous elements among the personal staff in the CMO and the associated criminal activities in the cases called for a thorough and independent investigation into the crime and associated activities involving the personal staff.

The court observed that the offences were committed by higher officials and persons who were capable of wielding high influence and pressure in the field of administration.

The court passed the judgment while allowing petitions filed by Shariffa from Ernakulam and Premchand R. Nair and others from Thiruvananthapuram seeking a CBI probe into the alleged manipulation and fabrication of revenue records, leading to them losing titles over their land.

They alleged that these manipulations were done at the instance of Salim Raj, former gunman of Mr. Chandy.

The inquiry conducted by former Revenue Principal Secretary G. Kamalavardhana Rao on a directive of the court had found that forgery and manipulation were committed by the revenue officials.

The court said the inquiry established that the revenue records maintained at the village offices were fabricated and new ‘thandaper’ records created by the revenue officials fraudulently “in conspiracy with some of the respondents and others, leading to social chaos”.

The court observed that a full-fledged investigation was necessary to reveal “the role of Salim Raj, his wife, and other bigwigs”.

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