Special Correspondent

Chandy criticises the move

Thiruvananthapuram: Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy has said that the Left Democratic Front (LDF) Government's move to amend some of the provisions in the Goonda Bill envisaging a three-member panel of sitting judges is ``politically motivated''.

Addressing a press conference here on Thursday, Mr. Chandy said the UDF Government's Goonda Ordinance envisaged a three-member panel of sitting judges. The proposal was accepted by the High Court and three judges were nominated prior to referring the matter for presidential assent. The matter could not move ahead because elections were announced.

Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan at a public meeting the other day announced that a sitting judge would head the panel. But the Government move was to amend the qualifications for the appointment of two other members of the proposed panel. This was intended to make political appointments, he said.

The UDF Government suggested a three-member panel of sitting judges because it felt judicial scrutiny would be required as the Goonda Act would give enormous power to the police.

He alleged that Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan was trying to blame the UDF Government for the financial problems his Government was facing in order to cover up its inefficiency.

He said if the UDF Government's financial management was bad, then the Government should come out with a White Paper. But the Government was reluctant to do so because it would have to accept that the UDF Government's financial management was good.

Mr. Chandy said he had called on the High Court Chief Justice on December 6. The visit was not a secret as reported by CPI(M) organ Deshabhimani. He had met the Chief Justice with prior appointment to invite him for his daughter's wedding and had even announced it at a public function in Thrissur.

Police criticised

Mr. Chandy took strong exception to the way the police department was functioning. Pointing out to the series of attacks against Congress workers at the panchayat level and at various public functions, including the bomb-throwing incident at his function, Mr. Chandy said these acts were perpetrated in the presence of the police.