Kerala High Court orders CBI probe into CM's gunman's land deal
The Kerala High Court Friday ordered a CBI probe into an alleged land deal involving a former gunman of Oommen Chandy. The chief minister welcomed the decision, saying "whenever there is a demand for a CBI probe, we have agreed to it".
A division bench of the high court, headed by Justice Haroon Rashid, Friday heard a petition over two land deals worth Rs.400 crore involving 45 acres of land believed to have been usurped by Chandy's former gunman Salim Raj and his accomplices.
The court handed the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
The court also said the chief minister was duty bound to explain to the people why there was a serious lapse on his part that he did not apply his mind when selecting his personal staff.
Chandy later welcomed the court's decision.
"I welcome the high court's decision to hand this case to the CBI. When the case came up in the high court, we first orally asked for a CBI probe and later gave an affidavit asking for a CBI probe into this case," Chandy told reporters.
"We have taken a stand that whenever there is a demand for a CBI probe, we have agreed for it," he said.
Ever since the scandal broke out, Leader of Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan, and CPI-M state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan have been demanding Chandy's resignation.
"I am surprised that a person like Vijayan, who in the SNC Lavalin case, caused a loss of Rs.374 crore to the state exchequer, brought high-profile lawyers from Delhi to see that the case is not handed over to the CBI," Chandy said.
The CBI arraigned Vijayan as an accused while the CBI court gave him a clean chit. The state government later appealed against the verdict.
"At that time, the chief minister was Achuthanandan and the state paid the lawyers' fee."
"In this land case, I am not going to the court asking to cancel the CBI probe. Instead, I have welcomed the probe. My conscience is clear and I have done no wrong and have nothing to fear," said Chandy.
(Posted on 28-03-2014)