Special Correspondent

Says he has full faith in Chief Minister on the issue

The former Chief Minister justifies delay in processing the caseSays the delay was mainly on account of the huge volume of documents

Thiruvananthapuram: Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy on Friday asserted that it was for Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan to take a decision on the alleged irregularities committed by Public Works Minister P.J. Joseph during his term as Housing Minister in the 1996-2001 Nayanar Government.

Replying to questions on the issue, Mr. Chandy said the Chief Minister had already stated that he wanted time to study the issue and he was willing to wait. The Chief Minister had just taken charge and had said he wanted time to study the case. "I have full faith in the Chief Minister on this issue," he said. As far as he was concerned, the only issue he had to answer for was the delay in processing the case when he was the Chief Minister.

Mr. Chandy said the delay was mainly on account of the huge volumes of documents and files that had to be processed. This was not a politically motivated case. It had its origin in the draft paragraph of the Accountant General. It found a place in the audit paragraph of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India. The Public Accounts Committee, headed by a prominent member of the then Opposition (Kodiyeri Balakrishnan), examined the CAG report.

The Government appointed a high-level committee of officials to examine the 36th PAC report that had recommended a vigilance probe. The official committee had recommended a full-scale audit of the accounts. The audit report came before the Government in February last. But he had decided against taking any action on the eve of the Assembly election, as the Government would have been open to charges of being politically motivated. He had preferred to act according to his conscience and leave it to the next Government to take a decision, Mr. Chandy said.

Asked why a chartered accountant's agency had been asked to conduct another probe over and above the CAG's and the PAC's report, Mr. Chandy said the decision was taken in view of the volumes of documents. There was more than 3 lakh files relating to 1,84,000 beneficiaries, he said. Obviously, the Government did not want to act in haste, he said.