Kerala

Crime Branch names Oommen Chandy as accused in rape case

Oommen Chandy.

Oommen Chandy.   | Photo Credit: V. Raju

The State Crime Branch police confirmed late on Saturday that they have opened a criminal investigation against former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on suspicion of having sexually assaulted solar energy investment fraud case accused Sarita Nair at his official residence at Cliff house in Thiruvananthapuram in 2013.

In a first information report (FIR) filed on Saturday in the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Thiruvananthapuram, the Crime Branch has accused Mr. Chandy of having committed a sexual act deemed by law as unnatural on Ms. Sarita in reciprocation for promoting her dubious business pitch. The FIR was yet to surface in the public domain, and its facts were mostly secret as of now.

In her complaint to the Crime Branch recently, Ms. Sarita alleged that she had gone to meet Mr. Chandy in person to seek his political patronage to woo private investment for her solar energy projects. Ms. Sarita said some members of the CM’s staff had facilitated the interview. She alleged that Mr. Chandy had sought and received sexual favours from her to promote her business.

The high-profile Sivarajan Commission that subsequently probed the politically stormy Solar Scam had found in September 2017 that the top members of the political executive in Kerala in 2013 had sought and received sexual favours from Ms. Sarita to promote her business.

The Commission also observed that sexual favours could be construed as illegal gratification as defined in the Prevention of Corruption Act. The Commission recommended that the government investigate all persons named by Ms. Sarita as her exploiters.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan tabled the 1,073-page report submitted by G. Sivarajan on September 26 at a specially convened Assembly session amidst rancorous protests from the Congress-led Opposition. At a press conference later, he ordered the registration of cases against those whom Ms. Sarita alleged had taken sexual advantage of her. Ms. Sarita has named a galaxy of United Democratic Front leaders as her exploiters.

Later in May 2018, the Kerala High Court expunged the solar commission's findings and observations against former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy based on a letter allegedly written by Ms. Sarita, when the police arrested her on the charge of fraud in 2013.

However, Ms. Sarita approached police in 2017 with specific complaints against Mr. Chandy and Congress leader K.C. Venugopal. She also deposed in front of a magistrate on her own against both the Congress leaders under section 164 CrPC.

The scandal had rocked the Oommen Chandy government and arguably brought disrepute to his office. It also led to the ignominious exit of Mr. Chandy’s longtime aides Teeny Joppan and Jikkumon Jacob and his security officer, Salim Raj.

The Commission had portrayed them as the damning link between the CM’s office and the alleged fraudsters, Ms. Sarita and her associate, Biju Radhakrishnan. The police subsequently arrested Joppan on suspicion of having helped the suspects cheat an investor of ₹40 lakh.

The Commission found that suspects had succeeded in defrauding several well-heeled people of lakhs of rupees by sheer name dropping.

They also made it their business to be seen alongside the politically powerful in the State.

The Commission observed that the accused had also cleverly hidden their criminal past to gain access to the CM’s office by personally cultivating some staff members and a few senior police officials. Their stratagem also involved enticement. The Commission had examined several documents, including cell phone metadata collected by the police as part of its probe.

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Printable version | Sep 25, 2020 9:01:11 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/crime-branch-names-oommen-chandy-k-c-venugopal-as-accused-in-rape-case/article25275889.ece

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