Pleas of V.S. Achuthanandan, Kannanthanam challenging Vigilance court order dismissed

The Kerala High Court on Tuesday dismissed petitions of Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan and BJP leader Alphonse Kannanthanam challenging a Thrissur Vigilance Special Court order refusing further investigation against Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in the palmolein import case.

Dismissing the petitions, Justice S.S. Satheesachandran said the challenges raised by the petitioners against the special court order were devoid of merit. The judge also directed the special court judge to take further steps to expedite proceedings in the case.

The special judge had earlier accepted an investigation report filed by the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau. The court had observed that there was no material evidence suggesting the involvement of Mr. Chandy in the deal.

It also stated that nothing could be brought to indicate complicity of any other persons other than those already listed as accused in the case.

Political advantage

Accepting the arguments of Advocate-General K.P. Dhandapani, the High Court said there was “some force in the submission of the Advocate-General that the objections are raised to the report by the petitioners only to drag on the proceedings and gain political advantage by keeping alive the allegations” against Mr. Chandy, who was the then Finance Minister, in the “limelight before the public”.

Government pleader Roshan D. Alexander too appeared in the case for the State.

The case related to the import of 15,000 tonnes of palmolein from Malaysia that allegedly caused a loss of Rs.2.32 crore to the exchequer. Mr. Chandy was the 23rd witness in the case.

The court said the “investigating agency, after getting formal permission, proceeded with further investigations to ascertain that the then Finance Minister had any role in the corruption imputed with the other accused, finally concluded not once, but twice, that there is no material to hold him culpable for any offence involved in the case”.

No material

This was a case, the court said, in which three reports were filed by the investigation agency and in all of them, particularly in the second report , the investigation agency found no material whatsoever to connect the then Finance Minister of the State in the offence imputed in the crime.

Regarding the contention of the petitioners that Mr. Chandy had affixed his signature on the note put up by senior public servants regarding the import of palmolein, the court said the signature or initials on the note was in no way an indication that he did any illegal act in relation with the import of palmolein.

Special right

The court also observed that the petitioners could challenge the acceptability of the report but could not ask the court to examine the materials tendered in the case with reference to the interpretation placed by them on one or the other materials placed in the case.

It also observed that the petitioners being political activists did not confer on them any special right to impeach the validity of a report filed by the investigation in a crime involving offences related to corruption.

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