Kerala rape case | CBI inspects Cliff House

A view of the Cliff House, official residence of the Kerala Chief Minister in Thiruvananthapuram.

A view of the Cliff House, official residence of the Kerala Chief Minister in Thiruvananthapuram.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inspected Cliff House, the official residence of the Chief Minister , here early Tuesday, May 3, 2022.

The CBI's examination was part of the agency's probe into the politically charged rape case involving an array of high-profile Congress leaders, notably former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy.

The woman, a one time speculator, widely perceived as the victim of a sex-for-political patronage racket during the previous United Democratic Front (UDF) government, accompanied the CBI investigators to the Cliff House.

Alleged victim at Cliff House

She reportedly aided the CBI's attempt to reconstruct the chain of events linked to the alleged offence. She had named the Cliff House the scene of the purported crime allegedly involving Mr. Chandy.

The victim, an accused in the infamous Solar Scam case that rocked the Oommen Chandy government in 2014, had alleged that a galaxy of Congress leaders had extorted sexual favours from her, promising State support for her putative solar farm venture.

Case's provenance

The CBI's case has provenance in a damning observation by the judicial commission appointed by Mr. Chandy to probe the scandal.

The Commission had recommended that the police probe those persons named by the woman as her sexual exploiters.

It concluded that demanding and accepting sexual favours for official patronage is equivalent to receiving illegal gratification under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Crime Branch inquiry ordered

The Pinarayi Vijayan government, which came to power in 2016, accepted the commission's recommendations and ordered a Crime Branch investigation.

In the run-up to the Assembly elections in January 2021, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government dropped a political bombshell by referring the case to the CBI.

CBI takes over probe

It issued an extraordinary notification allowing the CBI to probe an array of Congress leaders, including Mr. Chandy, on the charge of rape, financial exploitation, corruption and nepotism.

In August 2021, the CBI registered an FIR naming Mr. Chandy, All India Congress Committee general secretary K.C. Venugopal and former Ministers Adoor Prakash and AP Anil Kumar; Hiby Eden, MP; A.P. Abdullakutty, currently a top Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) functionary; as the respondents in the politically explosive case.

Congress cries foul

Congress had cried foul. By transferring the case to the CBI, the government had attempted to breathe new life into a set of discredited allegations to tarnish the Congress leadership ahead of the polls.

The action smacked of political vendetta. Mr. Chandy had said earlier that the government had sat on the "baseless" charges for five years.

The High Court had expunged the commission's contentious findings against Mr. Chandy. He had accused the Pinarayi Vijayan government of resurrecting the case to hobble the Congress leadership. He claimed that multiple investigators had found no merit in the accusations.

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2022 1:35:19 am |