Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said here on Wednesday that the criminal case against Italian navy guards, who allegedly killed two fishermen off Kerala coast, could not be settled out of court.
Speaking to the media after the weekly meeting of the Cabinet, the Chief Minister said that Indian laws did not provide for settlement of criminal cases. “Murder cases cannot be settled out of court. Trial will have to take place.”
Mr. Chandy said that the first information report in the case was strong. The case would proceed as mandated by the courts. The Centre was extending full support to the State in prosecuting the case.
On criticism about the allowing Italians to photograph the boat used by the fishermen and related matters, the Chief Minister said that the government wanted transparency in the matter as the Italian media were alleging that the case was cooked up. So far, the Italian authorities had not raised any complaints about the investigation. However, joint examination of material evidence was not possible as wanted by them.
The Chief Minister said that the government was not opposed to a CBI enquiry into Marad massacre. It would not take a position against CBI in court which was considering a petition seeking CBI enquiry. The case was not transferred to the CBI as the agency was unwilling to take it up.
He said that the United Democratic Front (UDF) was fighting the by election to the Assembly from Piravom with confidence. “The UDF was fully united and will win the election.” Accepting the challenge from the Opposition, he had stated that the by-election would be a verdict on the performance of the government.”
Referring to the allegations made by the Opposition Leader V. S. Achuthanandan against him over palmolein deal, the Chief Minister recalled that Mr. Achuthanandan had not alleged his involvement even when he withdrew the case as Chief Minister previously. “Why did he not say that I am a co-accused in the case I am deciding then? Moreover, why did he not order investigation of my role when he became the Chief Minister?”
Mr. Chandy denied that the number of his personal staff exceeded the limit. “I have only 27 members in my personal staff where as the norms permit 30.”
Referring to the report of the empowered committee of the Supreme Court that Kerala and Tamil Nadu were responsible for delays in completing the studies on Mullaperiyar dam, the Chief Minister said that Kerala had not caused any delays deliberately. However, it had insisted that certain procedures and tests should be done thoroughly.
Replying to a question, Mr. Chandy said that it was the policy of the government that the public sector should have a presence in the transport, water supply and power sectors. The State Electricity Board was facing financial problems arising out of excess power generation from Idukki project during monsoon to keep the reservoir level low. The level was kept low for safety reasons in view of the problems with the Mullaperiyar dam.