A division bench of the Kerala High Court Friday declared as null and void the observation made by a vigilance court against Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and asked it to complete re-investigation into the palm oil import case in six weeks.
The high court bench asked for the removal of the observation made by Vigilance Judge P.K. Haneefa, who rejected the vigilance report that gave a clean chit to the chief minister and ordered a re-investigation. The high court had given a clean chit to Chandy in October.
The import of 15,000 tonnes of palm oil was undertaken in 1992. The case was registered in 1999 when the communists led by E.K. Nayanar were in power.
The vigilance department had earlier submitted a report that there was nothing that could indict Chandy in the case.
Former chief minister K. Karunakaran, then food minister T.H. Mustafa and bureaucrats P.J. Thomas and Jiji Thompson were charged with causing a loss of Rs.2.32 crore by importing oil from Malaysia at an enhanced price.
The high court Friday took up the case after Thompson approached it, stating that his career prospects have turned bleak because of the never-ending investigations. He asked the court to stop the re-investigation.
Another shot in the arm for Chandy came when the court did not allow Leader of Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan and former legislator K.J. Alphonse to implead in the case.
The court said there was no reason for them to implead.
In September when the case came up first, counsel for the Kerala government informed the high court that they have no problems if the palm oil case goes for a re-investigation.
Even though the events of the case date back to 1992, it hit headlines in August this year when the Thiruvananthapuram special vigilance Judge Haneefa rejected the state vigilance department report that gave a clean chit to Chandy, and asked it to conduct further probe against him and submit report in three months.
Government chief whip P.C. George then shot a letter to the president and chief justices of both the Supreme Court and the Kerala High Court that Judge Haneefa’s action was against the law of the country, citing a few apex court judgments.
Judge Haneefa relinquished the case.
The high court then asked the Thrissur vigilance court to take over the case.
George told reporters Friday that his stand has been vindicated with the high court striking off the observations of Judge Haneefa.
“I wish that all who attacked me will apologise for their curt remarks against me,” said George, who came under attack from the opposition allegedly for trying to threaten the judiciary.