Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: An Alandur court on Wednesday dismissed a petition from P.J. Joseph, former Kerala Minister of Public Works, seeking exemption from personal appearance in court in a case relating to his alleged misbehaviour with a woman air passenger.

The former Minister had filed a petition under Section 205 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in the court of N. Ramanathan, Judicial Magistrate, seeking the exemption, claiming that frequent trips to Chennai were affecting his health. He also had to attend to party work and participate in the Kerala Assembly proceedings. The former Minister was to attend court proceedings on Wednesday, but did not turn up. His advocates said Mr. Joseph had to be present in the Assembly. Earlier, he was to appear in court on July 3, but failed to turn up.

Mr. Ramanathan, while dismissing his plea, informed the advocates that if the former Minister was unable to come to court, a petition under Section 317 of the Criminal Procedure Code could be filed mentioning the reason for his absence. Further hearing will be taken up on July 17. On that day, the Chennai airport police station’s petition seeking the report submitted by a senior Kerala police officer on the incident would also be taken up.

In August 2006, Mr. Joseph allegedly misbehaved with a woman passenger on a flight from Chennai to Kochi. Following a complaint, the senior woman police officer submitted her report to the Kerala government, leading to his resignation.

A complaint was also filed at the Chennai airport police station. Over a year ago, the complainant, a television personality, the crew of the flight and fellow passengers recorded their statements at the Judicial Magistrate court in East Tambaram.