Thiruvananthapuram : After the Titanium graft case, the 23-year-old palmolein import case has returned to haunt Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Monday with the Supreme Court questioning the motive behind his government’s decision to wind up the case.
A division bench headed by Justice T K Thakur wondered whether the government had decided to withdraw the case with the ulterior motive of preventing scrutiny of Chandy’s role in the import of 15,000 tonnes of palmolein from Malayasia in 1991 in violation of norms.
The court was considering a petition filed by opposition leader V S Achuthanandan challenging the high court stay on a vigilance court order dismissing the government’s plea to withdraw the case and seeking a fresh probe into the role of Chandy, who was finance minister when the government headed by late K Karunakaran decided to go for the import.While agreeing with the petitioner’s plea for a probe, the court expressed suspicion about a probe by any state agency and asked government counsel V Giri whether it was not proper to entrust the probe with a federal agency like the Central Bureau of Investigation. The court observed that the probe by any agency under the Chief Minister may not bring out the truth. The court noted that the decision to withdraw the case was taken at the meeting of the cabinet headed by Chandy. If he had no ulterior motive in the withdrawal of the case, he could have abstained from the meeting. The court has directed the state high court to dispose of the petition pending before it within three months. Reacting to the verdict, Chandy said that he was ready to face probe by any agency. He said the probe by the police under Achuthanandan as well as his predecessor E K Naynar had not found him responsible for any lapse in the import. Chandy told at Calicut that the investigating team on both the occasion had made him only a witness in the case.