Bench’s stay order not to affect single judge’s directive for CBI probe

A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Tuesday stayed a single judge’s observation that the alleged involvement of personal staff of Chief Minster Oommen Chandy in criminal acts had raised serious questions on the functioning of the Chief Minister’s Office, for which the Chief Minister was answerable.

The Bench comprising Justice K.M. Joseph and Justice A.K. Jayasankaran Nambiar also stayed Justice Harun-Ul-Rashid’s observation that “prima facie evidence of the presence of unscrupulous elements among the personal staff in the Chief Minister’s office and associated criminal activities in these cases call for a thorough and independent investigation into the crime and associated activities involving personal staff in the Chief Minister’s office.”

The single judge had made the observations while ordering a CBI probe into two land-grab cases in which Salim Raj, suspended gunman of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, is allegedly involved. The stay order came on an appeal filed by the State government seeking to expunge the adverse observations against the Chief Minister’s office.

During the hearing, the government sought a stay on the whole observations made by the single judge in the 70th paragraph in the single judge’s verdict.

The Bench was of the view that “a case has been made out for staying” the two observations. The Bench further observed that the order would be without prejudice in any manner to the directive contained in the judgment of the single judge that the investigation must be done by the CBI.

The stay order would not in any manner stand in the way of the CBI investigating the cases, the Bench observed.

The Bench made it clear that it had not stayed the other observations in the judgment of the single judge.

The other observations: …all these incidents had evoked shock and surprise among the people.

The alleged involvement of the members of the personal staff of the Chief Minister’s office in criminal acts had “come to the attention of this court at multiple instances.” These incidents showed that “the authorities at the helm of affairs of the administration in the State have not been prudent and responsible in appointing personal staff with integrity and character.”

The single judge had added that the Chief Minister’s office should be a model institution serving the people of the State.

  • Appeal filed by the State government

  • Stay sought only for a portion of the verdict