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Land grab cases: HC suggests use of independent agency

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Land grab cases: HC suggests use of independent agency
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Kochi: The High Court on Thursday suggested utilising services of an independent outside agency to ensure 'effective questioning' of political leaders and higher officials in two land grabbing cases in which Salim Raj, controversial former gunman of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, is allegedly involved.

The observation was made orally by Justice Harun-Al Rashid when two petitions seeking CBI probe into the land grabbing cases in Kalamassery near Kochi and Kadakkampally in Thiruvananthapuram, came up before the court.

Vigilance report in the Kadakkampally case was produced in the court on Thursday.

The court held that the "state machinery will not be effective in such matters."

Meanwhile, the CBI strongly opposed taking over the investigation on the ground that they undertake only anti-corruption cases, very sensitive crimes and offences of inter-state ramifications.

Pointing that this was a "very sensitive crime" as some persons are involved in both the cases, the court said this was not a simple case of civil dispute.

"There are influence exerted by higher levels of power. Salim Raj is the former gunman of the Chief Minister. In such circumstances, it is not possible for state machinery to investigate", the court held.

"This is a case of grabbing land worth crores. Some persons are in power. During the relevant time, Salim Raj was gunman of the Chief Minister. He was doing all kinds of mischief," the judge observed.

Since both the crimes are independent, only an outside or independent agency can investigate, the court held.

The CBI counsel sought time for getting feedback from agency on the observations made by the court.

Examining the Revenue Secretary's report, the court held that manipulations in both cases are of very same nature. Certain people wielding power were involved.

"Crores have been paid. Where is the source of this money? Somebody is there to spend crores of rupees. Who are these persons? I do not think state machinery can do it better. We want to know who all are involved', the judge said.

The court asked the CBI to take the matter seriously as people of the state were keen to know those behind the cases. In future, this should not happen.

The hearing in the case will continue on Friday.

PTI

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