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Top Kerala official fired for meddling in graft probe
By Ashraf Padanna November 13, 2012
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TRIVANDRUM: Kerala’s information commissioner, responsible for ensuring transparency in government services under the revolutionary Right to Information Act, has been suspended from service for trying to influence corruption probe.

Kerala Governor HR Bharadwaj on Monday issued the suspension order against Information Commissioner K. Natarajan, which was sent to Supreme Court for further action in the rarest of rare cases.

The action follows a Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) report confirming that Natarajan had called his former subordinate, the deputy superintendent of police VG Kunjan, asking him to drop serious charges of corruption against former chief minister VS Achuthanandan.

Home Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan confirmed that the governor had signed the suspension order and recommended a detailed enquiry to be initiated by the apex court in the charges against Natarajan.

A report by the home ministry had earlier said Natarajan tried to repeatedly influence the probe against Achuthanandan.

Natarajan was asking the investigating officer to absolve the former chief minister as a first accused in land deal case.

The government decided to take action against Natarajan, a former deputy inspector general of police, on the basis of advice from the home and law departments that Natarajan, a close associate of Achuthanandan, had exceeded his brief and showed inappropriate behaviour.

An audio of conversation took place between Kunjan and Natarajan, a nominee of Achuthanandan, in which he was heard asking the VACB officer to manipulate investigation in favour of the veteran Communist leader was on air since September.

The audio “evidence” was verified by the cyber-forensic wing of the state police.

Natarajan was also heard on the tape saying he himself had saved a revenue official caught in a bribery case on the same grounds that he was not a “habitual offender.”

Kunjan reportedly recorded the telephonic conversation when he was called by his former superior officer on Sept. 19 before embarking on a long foreign jaunt.

Natarajan is yet to deny the allegations.

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