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The big political stick called CBI
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Although there have been several cases of corruption and fraud in Kerala's history, the solar scam that surfaced during the last United Democratic Front (UDF) government, stands out for several reasons. It all began with the detection of a gang that swindled people of crores of rupees on the promise of installing solar energy and windmill farms. It took a further turn of political ramifications with the revelation that the arrested ones including a woman, had a nexus with the legislators including chief minister Oommen Chandy and certain ruling party leaders. And that became the hot topic as a notorious case of fraud. The judicial enquiry that was declared after widespread protests, completed its work only after four years. The Justice Sivarajan Commision that went into the intricate case finally came up with a report indicting the chief minister and his coterie for facilitating the operation of those who deceived the people on the false promise in the name of a sham firm named 'Team Solar' and who were rewarded for this in monetary consideration and illicit gratification involving sexual exploitation. In its report running to four volumes and 1067 pages, the commission has also recommended that the case merited comprehensive investigation. In that sense and in the interest of the state, there is nothing wrong in a central agency like the Central Bureau of Investigation taking up the case. However, a valid question will arise why the current Pinarayi government limited the solar case to one involving only those including Oommen Chandy in a sexual torture case, and whose interest it was seeking to protect by referring it to the CBI. If on the very first day of the door to door campaign of the ruling CPI-M in its run-up to the imminent assembly election, the government referred the matter to the CBI and that too without discussing it at a cabinet meeting, that decision cannot be viewed as wholly well-intended.

The cases referred to the CBI are, as per the notification of the state additional chief secretary for home affairs, surrounding sexual harassment charges which are currently under investigation by the state Crime Branch. The action comes in response to the complaint submitted to the chief minister by the victimised woman against Oommen Chandy, KC Venugopal, Adoor Prakash, AP Anil Kumar, Hibi Eden, AP Abdullakutty . The references to the complaint were part of the judicial commission report, and it was in consideration of this that the case was earlier referred to the Crime Branch. The essence of the commission report is that elected representatives including the then chief minister and bureauctats misused a whole government machinery at the cost of dignity and honour of the positions they occupied and merely to savour money and female body. In other words, the revelations of Justice Sivarajan were abominable stories of what was going on for some time in and around the secretariat led by those who had got entrenched in the corridors of power. If the intention of the government was to uncover such misuse of authority and to bring before law those involved in the racket, the course for the government to take should have been to conduct a comprehensive follow-up investigation. Back in 2015, the then opposition leader VS Achuthanandan himself had expressed mistrust in a judicial probe and approached the High Court demanding a CBI enquiry into the solar case. But now, when the government sets aside all those factors and refers only one part of the report to the the CBI, it is patently inappropriate. As a matter of fact, given that the case can be proven through a Crime Branch investigation – which is ongoing - by referring it to the central agency, the Left front and CPM is trying to reap political fruit. The only doubt about the matter is, since BJP's national vice president AP Abdullakutty is also charged in the case, whether the CBI will fight shy of taking up the case.


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TAGS:CBI Oommen Chandy solar case investigation sexual harassment charges 
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