Graphite case to be dropped

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM OCT. 26. The Vigilance and Anti-corruption Bureau will shortly seek the permission of the Vigilance court to withdraw the second module of the graphite case against the Transport Minister, R. Balakrishna Pillai, it is learnt.

The third module, which is under investigation by the Vigilance police, will also be dropped. Besides Mr. Pillai, the former Secretary (Power), Gopalakrishna Pillai, and former chairman of the Kerala State Electricity Board, Kesava Pillai, are the accused in the case.

The Cabinet took the decision to drop the case on October 1. Mr. Gopalakrishna Pillai and Mr. Kesava Pillai had requested the Government to drop the second and third modules as the Supreme Court had acquitted them and Mr. Balakrishna Pillai of the charges in the first module. The Government then sought the advice of the Advocate General and decision to drop the case was taken on the basis of legal opinion from him, an official spokesman said.

The prosecution case was that Mr. Pillai and others had caused a loss of Rs. 28 lakhs in the sale of power to Graphite India Limited of Karnataka between October 1984 and May 1985 when a power cut was in force in the Kerala. The second and third modules pertained to the subsequent sale of power to the company.

The Advocate General opined that the charges in all the modules were similar. As the accused had been acquitted on appeal in the first module, the second and third modules too would not stand. However, the Vigilance police did not share this view.

It may be recalled that the Cabinet had recently decided to drop the proposed Vigilance enquiry against the CPI(M) leader, Sarojini Balanandan, and the former Chief Minister, E. K. Nayanar, also.

Ms. Balanandan was alleged to have committed irregularities in the appointment of staff to the Social Welfare Board as its head. Mr. Nayanar placed the matter before the Cabinet and got its approval for the appointments despite the allegations. There were also allegations of financial irregularities against Ms. Balanandan and an inquiry was initiated during the LDF rule itself.

The Antony Government took the decisions against the backdrop of the political crisis in the State resulting from infighting in the Congress. Mr. Pillai was one of the critics of the Government from within.

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