Special Correspondent

Says it is ‘shielding’ corrupt official

Engineer facing charges in two corruption cases

Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Friday pulled up the State government for giving promotion to a senior environmental engineer of the Pollution Control Board (PCB) who is facing charges of corruption in two cases.

Criticising the government for “shielding” A.K. Surendran, environment engineer in Palakkad, Justice S. Siri Jagan observed that “a government which claims to have declared war against corruption in government service vehemently defends” a person who was accused of corruption, that too a person who had been allegedly caught-red handed while accepting bribe and who had, unmindful of the first crime, got himself involved in another more serious case of corruption.”

The court said the government’s stand would create doubts in the mind of the public about the sincerity of “the government’s professed commitment to fight corruption. If its fight against corruption is not a mere lip service to pull the wool over the eyes of the public, the government would do well to cancel the promotion of the engineer and place him under suspension.”

The court also flayed the Pollution Control Board for taking up the cudgel on behalf of the engineer. The court said that the Pollution Control Board was discharging a very vital function in modern times. It had “far-reaching” power, including the power to order closure of a factory.

The court pointed out that the Kerala State Pollution Control Board General and Special Service Rules banned promotion of an officer against whom criminal proceedings were pending.

The court made these observations while considering two writ petitions filed by K. Muraleedharan of Thrissur and Simon K. Francis of Palakkad, two entrepreneurs, challenging the promotion of Mr. Surendran. The court directed the government to consider revocation of the promotion and keep him under suspension. The court directed the government to consider issuing a directive to the board to initiate disciplinary proceedings against him.