State Information Commissioner accused of trying to influence VACB officer
The State police are likely to investigate the allegation that State Information Commissioner (SIC) K. Natarajan has attempted to influence an ongoing inquiry into the ‘unjustifiable’ allotment of government land to a relative of V.S. Achuthanandan when he was Chief Minister, according to Home Department officials.
Mr. Natarajan, a former Deputy Inspector General of Police, appeared to have come under a cloud on Tuesday after a newspaper published the ‘mobile phone recording’ of a ‘telephone talk’ he purportedly had with Deputy Superintendent of Police, Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB), V.G. Kunhan on September 19.
Mr. Kunhan is investigating Mr. Achuthanandan, former Revenue Minister K.P. Rajendran, and former Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister Sheela Thomas, among others, on the charge of ‘unjustifiably’ allotting government land to T.K. Soman, an ex-serviceman related to Mr. Achuthanandan when the Left Democratic Front was in power.
The allegation against Mr. Natarajan was that he ‘requested’ Mr. Kunhan to exclude Mr. Achuthanandan from the array of accused as he was an ‘honest politician.’
Mr. Natarajan allegedly cited how he had ‘saved’ an accused in a Vigilance trap case to exemplify to Mr. Kunhan how an investigator could steer the course of a criminal inquiry if he willed so.
Mr. Kunhan reported the matter to Superintendent of Police, VACB, Habib Rahman, his immediate superior. He also submitted an audio recording of the purported conversation to the VACB.
Legal opinion sought
The VACB on Tuesday passed on the audio ‘evidence’ to the cyber-forensic wing of the State police to check its authenticity. It also sought legal opinion to find out whether Mr. Natarajan’s alleged ‘actions and claims’ attracted the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Indian Penal Code, including that relating to destruction of evidence.
The State government’s stance on whether Mr. Natarajan was fit to continue in his statutory post or not would depend on the outcome of the investigation of the allegations raised against him, officials said.
Earlier, Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan told journalists that Mr. Natarajan would face ‘legal action’ if he was found to have overstepped his official limits. The law frowned upon any attempt to ‘erase a case’ or influence the course of justice. He declined to comment on the case against Mr. Achuthanandan on the ground that it was sub judice.