Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said on Wednesday that the government decision to withdraw the palmolein case was a legitimate one made on the basis of UDF’s continuing policy (against victimising officials for decisions made by the Cabinet).
Talking to the media after a meeting of the Cabinet, the Chief Minister said that the Central Vigilance Commission had advised in 2007 that the case against IAS officers P. J. Thomas and Jiji Thomson might be dropped as no case had been made against them. The officers, the Commission had said, had acted in accordance with legitimately taken Cabinet decision and no loss had been caused to the State Government. More importantly, no case had been made out that they had derived any benefit from the deal (to buy palomolein from Malaysia).
Mr. Chandy said that the previous UDF government had taken the decision to withdraw the case in 2005. However, the LDF government that came to power after that had stalled the decision. It also did not reply to the communication from the Vigilance Commission in 2007. After the present government came to power, action on it was delayed because the previous government had levelled allegations against him (Mr. Chandy) also. So, he waited till he was cleared of the accusations with the High Court confirming findings of the Vigilance and Anti-corruption Bureau in that regard.
He said that it was found advisable to withdraw the entire case (involving politicians and contractors also) instead of withdrawing the case against the officers alone. The State had lost no money in the deal. The case was that it had lost projected gain of about Rs. 2.5 crore.
The Chief Minister said that he could not confirm whether he was acquainted with Fiaz, who was arrested in connection with gold smuggling, as he meet many people. However, he could confirm that he was not with him in Dubai as alleged. He had his daughter and near ones in Dubai to take care of his needs. He had not heard of his additional private secretary being involved in the case before. The name of another had been mentioned earlier. Action cannot be taken on the basis of hearsay. However, he would enquire about the media reports. “The law will take its course in the case.”
He said that the Cabinet would take further decisions on judicial probe into solar scam on receiving reply from the High Court on sparing a sitting judge for the enquiry. The reply was expected this week.
Mr. Chandy said that he would examine the complaint that action being taken against riders of two-wheelers (suspension of driving licence) for not wearing the helmet was not in accordance with the provisions of the law. It was not the objective of the government to inconvenience the riders but to save lives. Complaints about enforcement of traffic law arose when the law was not being uniformly enforced. The government was examining how the riders could be persuaded to wear helmets. Besides camera traps, one proposal was to make wearing of helmets compulsory for buying petrol at petrol pumps.
He said that there was nothing wrong in the Muslim League making demands for Lok Sabha seats. Seat-sharing would finally be decided unitedly by all parties concerned.