Kerala

Govt. seeks legal opinion to prosecute Devassy

Played a vital role in the illegal construction of Maradu flats

The State government has sought legal opinion on whether or not to prosecute former Maradu grama panchayat president K.A. Devassy.

Mr. Devassy, an influential CPI(M) leader, had found himself in the eye of a storm after the Crime Branch (CB) ‘reported’ in December that he had ‘played a vital role in the commission of the offences’ related to the illegal construction of four flats in the panchayat.

The agency told the government that Mr. Devassy had actively collaborated with the ‘delinquent’ builders to help them fraudulently acquire, reclaim and construct on ecologically fragile wetland. The builders, later, palmed of the illegally built flats to unsuspecting buyers.

However, the delay on the part of the government to accord sanction to prosecute Mr. Devassy had ‘hobbled’ the agency's efforts to investigate the corruption aspect of the case. In contrast, the government had given the CB sanction to prosecute three local body officials Jairam Naik, P.E. Joseph and Muhammad Ashraf.

The alleged move to save Mr. Devassy from prosecution prompted the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) to take to the streets in protest. Congress leaders also swore to raise the issue in the coming budget session of the Assembly. Hundreds of apartment dwellers, who lost their life’s savings when their flats were dynamited, lent their support to the UDF protest.

Finally on January 20, Additional Chief Secretary, Home, Vishwas Mehta wrote to the Director General of Prosecution seeking his ‘remarks’ in the matter. Mr. Mehta has not set any deadline for receiving the legal opinion.

The agency had sought the permission of the government for sanction under Section 17 (a) of the Prevention of Corruption Act to indict him as a former public servant for conspiracy, cheating and graft. It suspected that a large amount of money had changed hands over a protracted period to facilitate the fraud.

Abuse of power

The agency had also found that Mr. Devassy allegedly abused the power of his office to pressurise panchayat officials to issue building permits overlooking the provisions of the Coastal Regulation Zone notification of 1991, Kerala Municipal Building Rules and other allied laws.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 7:41:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/govt-seeks-legal-opinion-to-prosecute-devassy/article30626118.ece

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