Special Correspondent

Chennithala says government stand in High Court on land deal extraordinary

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president Ramesh Chennithala has alleged that the State government’s stand on the Merchiston Estate land deal in the High Court is intended to favour proprietor of the estate Xavy Mano Mathew and protect Forest Minister Benoy Viswom.

Addressing a press conference here on Thursday, Mr. Chennithala said the Additional Advocate General’s stand in the High Court in a case against the land deal that the government did not have any objection to a three-week stay was extraordinary. “Such a stand had been purposefully taken to help Mr. Mathew. It was intended to give him time to get legal relief from the court,” he said.

The government was prompt in nullifying the entries in the land registry in favour of Mr. Mathew, but it had done nothing to nullify the registered land sale to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and other related transactions. Seeking the government’s clarification on this, Mr. Chennithala said the government had taken contradictory positions on the Merchiston deal. It had shown undue haste in declaring the estate as government land.

He said that since the Forest Minister had been put under the scanner in a vigilance case, it was highly improper for the Chief Minister to allow him to attend a conference intended to take decisions on forest-related issue.

The LDF had only one agenda to protect the Forest Minister. It had ordered an inquiry by the Vigilance Department to avert any emergent action by the vigilance court.

Several vigilance inquiries had been ordered in the past, but never before had the government of the day framed the terms of reference for such probes. Framing of terms of reference for the vigilance probe was nothing but unauthorised interference in the investigation process and undermining of transparency. This was gross misuse of power.