Kochi: The Kerala High Court Friday took up a Public Interest Litigation on its own over the suicide of an NRI businessman, which it described as "painful", and issued notice to the government, asking for an explanation by July 15.
The court initiated proceedings based on news reports.
The 49-year-old Nigeria-returned businessman Sajan Parayil, who had spent about Rs 16 crore for an auditorium, hanged himself at his home Tuesday after the Anthoor municipality refused to grant the certificate for his project.
Initiating the PIL against the municipality secretary, the district town planner and the secretary to the state government's local self government, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Hrishikesh Roy and Justice A K Jayasankaran Nambiar termed as "painful" the news about the suicide of the businessman.
The court also said the "lethargic attitude" of authorities led to the incident.
It sought the state government's explanation by July 15.
The high court also came down heavily on alleged red tape still prevailing in the system.
The high court registrar general's note said there are reasons to think the "adamant posture" of the municipality was the reason for the man to commit suicide after investing a huge amount of Rs 16 crore for his own business.
Though there are contradictory versions over whether he had conformed to the approved plan, it is certain that before committing suicide, he had been moving after the project and was eager to get clearance from the municipality, it said.
There are also reasons to think that the municipality had dragged the matter for reasons best known to them, it said.
"These are matters causing considerable hardships to persons investing money in projects; it will also send a bad message to prospective entrepreneurs.
"Unwanted political interventions also pose threat to developmental activities, even in the private sector," the note said.
The suicide of the businessman had created a furore in the Kerala Assembly on June 19, with the opposition UDF staging a walkout, dissatisfied with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's reply.
Vijayan had assured that strong action would be taken against those responsible for denying the permission.
The Kerala government had on Thursday suspended four officers of Anthoor municipality in Kannur in connection with the suicide.