Agri Business

Palmolein case takes political turn as polls approach

PTI Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on February 26, 2011

In a new turn in the palmolein import graft case, the ruling LDF Government on Saturday filed a petition in the Special Vigilance Court hearing the case, seeking further probe holding that some more persons were likely to be named as accused.

In the petition, the government said the investigation agency proposed to conduct further probe in the case, in which Central Vigilance Commissioner, Mr P J Thomas, is also an accused, regarding the involvement of other persons.

The move is seen as an apparent attempt to drag Congress leader, Mr Oommen Chandy, who was Finance Minister in the UDF government headed by late K Karunakaran which cleared the deal in 1992, in the case.

Mr Chandy’s name came up in connection with a discharge petition filed by the then food minister, Mr T H Mustaffa, an accused in the case.

In his petition, Mr Mustaffa held that it was fair to have spared Mr Chandy in the case but the same yardstick of fairness had not been not applied in his case. He had said the prosecution rightly did not find fault with Mr Chandy but unjustly arraigned him as an accused.

Seizing on Mustaffa’s petition, the LDF Government has of late made veiled threats of arraigning Chandy, a chief ministerial contender of the UDF, as an accused in the case.

Mr Mustaffa’s counsel, however, opposed the government petition saying the contents of his discharge petition were “wilfully distorted and misused for political gains“.

The judge, Justice S Jagadeesh, posted the hearing on the petition for March 7.

The case relates to alleged corruption in importing palmolein from Malaysia at exorbitant rates, which allegedly caused a loss to the enchequer to tune of Rs 2.32 crore in 1991—92 when Karunarakan was the Chief Minister and P J Thomas the Food Secretary and a member of the Board of the Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation.

Thomas has been listed as the eighth accused in the charge sheet filed by the Vigilance and Anti corruption Bureau in 2003.

Published on February 26, 2011

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