THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In a new turn in the palmolein graft case, a Special Vigilance Court here Monday gave sanction for a further probe that could bring former chief minister and Congress leader, Mr Oommen Chandy under the scanner.
The order of the court, which also asked the investigating agency to submit a report within three months, came following the prosecution plea seeking a further probe on the ground that some more persons were likely to be named accused in the case.
Earlier this month, the prosecution had filed a petition seeking direction for a further probe, a move seen as an attempt to drag in Mr Chandy, who was finance minister in the UDF ministry headed by late K Karunakaran, which cleared the palmolein import deal in 1991.
Monday’s development is considered significant as Mr Chandy is UDF’s chief ministerial candidate for the April 13 assembly polls in the state. Vigilance Special Judge, Mr Justice S Jagadish observed that the prosecution had the right of further investigation under Section 173(8) of CrPC and hence formal sanction was being granted. The court, however, did not mention any name or make specific observations in its order.
The palmolein case, in which former central vigilance commissioner, Mr P J Thomas (then food secretary) and former food minister, Mr T H Musthafa are among the accused, took a political turn last month after Mr Musthafa mentioned Mr Chandy’s name in his discharge plea. Mr Thomas’ appointment as CVC was struck down by the Supreme Court recently.
Mr Musthafa said it was fair enough to have spared Mr Chandy in the case, but the same fairness was not shown in his case when he was listed as an accused. Mr Musthafa’s plea was used by Left parties to target Mr Chandy, alleging he was also responsible for the cabinet decision. Reacting to the court order, Mr Chandy said he would co-operate with the investigation but the LDF owed an explanation to the people as to why his name was not mentioned anywhere in connection with the case in the last 20 years.