In a respite for Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, the High Court Friday stayed for two months a Vigilance court order to conduct an investigation against him and his cabinet colleague Aryadan Muhammed over their alleged links to the solar scam.
Chandy welcomed the order but was soon facing fresh allegations from one of the accused, Saritha S Nair, who claimed before a judicial commission that the Chief Minister’s son was linked to the scam.
The stay also had an unexpected fallout with the Vigilance court judge S S Vassan deciding “to resign from judicial service” after High Court judge Justice P Ubaid observed that he had acted “irresponsibly” by “going after allegations” and asked the administrative section to “look into” his conduct. The High Court had earlier stayed a similar move by the Vigilance court against another state minister K Babu who went on to submit his resignation. Reacting to the stay, Chandy told reporters, “Truth has prevailed. The Congress party and (the ruling) UDF are one and united.” The High Court’s order came at a crucial juncture for the Chief Minister with calls rising for his resignation from within his own party and with just three months to go for the assembly elections. Meanwhile, Nair’s deposition before the commission continued for the third day with the scam-accused raising fresh allegations against Chandy’s son Chandy Oommen. Nair claimed before the commission that there was a plan to float a firm that would be involved in renewable energy and Chandy wanted to make his son Oommen as its director. She alleged that there was also a plan to import solar panels from the US, as part of a venture in which Chandy’s son allegedly had a stake. Nair claimed before the commission that while she had only “business links” to Chandy’s son, Chandy Oommen allegedly had “close links” to another woman accused in the scam. She also told the commission that she had discussed business with Chandy Oommen at the CM’s official residence. Nair claimed that Chandy Oommen had toured various Gulf countries “with that woman” and that another Congress minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan possessed photos of the two from those trips. She also claimed before the commission that co-accused Biju Radhakrishnan had used those photos to blackmail Chandy. Responding to the charges, Chandy stated in an official press release that his son would file civil and criminal cases against Nair for making the allegations. While ordering the registration of an FIR against Chandy yesterday, judge Vassan had acted upon a public interest litigation filed by an activist based on newspaper reports regarding Nair’s statement before the commission that she had paid Chandy a bribe of Rs 1.9 crore to help her solar power venture.
The Vigilance court had forwarded the complaint to the state Vigilance director for investigation. The judge noted, “It is made clear that while forwarding the complaint under Cr PC section 156 (3), the judge is acting as a post office. I am not supposed to make any comments. I have to bear in mind Article 14 of the Constitution, be it a village man or the chief minister, the law is equal to all public servants.’’
However, High Court Justice Ubaid said today that the Vigilance court should not have made any “unwarranted observations”, referring to his remark about “acting as a post office”.
Official sources confirmed that Vassan had “moved an application for voluntary retirement” even as senior Congress Minister K C Joseph sought a probe against the Vigilance court judge.