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Kerala HC drops graft charges against Chandy
BY Ashraf Padanna February 10, 2018
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KOCHI: Kerala High Court on Friday quashed charges of corruption against former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and his top aides in an alleged land grab case.

The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) of the state police had last year booked the senior Congress leader, former chief secretary EK Bharat Bhushan and three others accusing them of letting a realtor grab government land.

Subsequently, Bhushan moved the court. Friday’s strongly-worded verdict came as a body blow to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan who had extensively used the allegations to unseat Chandy in the 2016 elections.

The court held that the case was based on “assumed facts and false statements” and pulled up former VACB chief Jacob Thomas most stingingly saying he lacked legal literacy and wondered if he was qualified to hold such a high position in the police.

Justice K Abraham Mathew said the facts and circumstances of the case indicated “mala fide intention and ulterior motive on the part of the police officer concerned, which is discernible to a person who reads between the lines.” “Preconceptions and misconceptions, predictions and predeterminations of a police officer shall not be the basis for registration of a case, especially, for an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act,” the judgement says.

It said the officer failed to submit an affidavit as it directed but took to the social media with his own conclusions, which it said was akin to contempt of court.

It said Thomas had appeared in the court only once and he failed to produce any convincing evidence to prove his arguments on the non-existent land grab.

The issue was taken up by media in 2015 on reports that Chandy had asked his chief secretary to look up the issue of a private builder getting access to land belonging to state-owned Kerala Water Authority (KWA) at Pattoor in the heart of the city.

They were building an apartment complex and shopping mall there and approached the government to remove the KWA pipeline passing through it.

Following this, he asked Bhushan to form a panel to look into it, and during a survey, they found a portion of government land in the realtor’s possession, which they took back.

Subsequently, the KWA shifted the pipeline at the builder’s expense. Soon, Chandy’s predecessor VS Achuthanandan, who was the opposition floor leader then, began legal proceedings alleging corruption in the deal.

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