Kerala

Petitioner accuses VACB of mala fide

The agency denied him records in KMML corruption case

The de facto complainant in Kerala Metals and Minerals Limited (KMML) magnesium procurement case has accused the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) of denying him the documents the agency had relied on to justify its decision to exonerate Chief Secretary Tom Jose from the crime of corruption in the purchase of the raw material.

In a petition filed in front of the Inquiry Commissioner and Special Judge of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB), petitioner Ravindran said he had received only the final report absolving Mr. Jose and others in the case. The agency had denied him the documents listed as exhibits in the agency's ‘referral report.’

They included 14 witness statements and 49 official documents.

S. Vinod Kumar, counsel for the petitioner, said his client required the documents to file a detailed objection report in court.

However, the VACB had violated the principle of justice and fairness inherent in the Code of Criminal Procedure by denying the petitioner the requisite exhibits. There appeared to be a "mala fide abuse of power" in the VACB's action, he said.

Mr. Suresh said the agency appeared intimidated by the bureaucratic stature of the accused. He requested the court to subpoena the documents and compel their production under Section 91 of the Cr.PC.

The VACB had in 2016 registered a case (VC 6/2016) of conspiracy and corruption against Mr. Jose and others after a quick verification by the agency found merit in Mr. Ravindran's complaint that the procurement reeked of corruption.

A preliminary probe by the VACB had found that KMML had sustained a loss of ₹1.21 crore due to the purchase of magnesium at an allegedly overstated price from an international supplier. The VACB also questioned the payment of ₹51 lakh to a private firm as "service tax" for carrying out the maintenance works. The alleged graft had occurred during the brief period, six months, when Mr. Jose had headed KMML.

The VACB, later, refuted its initial findings and said in its referral report that KMML had floated a global tender and contracted a foreign supplier to purchase better quality magnesium. It said there was no corruption in the deal. The agency had compared similar procurements by other State public sector units and found that KMML had fared better.

The court will hear the case again on November 10.

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 2:50:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/petitioner-accuses-vacb-of-mala-fide/article29362725.ece

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