Saseendran returns as Kerala minister, HC seeks government's explanation
(4 months ago)
Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 1 : Less than an year after NCP leader A.K. Saseendran quit as Kerala Transport Minister following the "sleaze tape" case, he returned to the Pinarayi Vijayan government on Thursday, being sworn in as a minister by Governor P. Sathasivam.
The swearing-in was boycotted by the Congress-led opposition, which questioned morality of this act in the wake of reports that the entire case was swept under the carpet by police and the state government.
Meanwhile spelling more trouble for the government, the Kerala High Court, just before the swearing-in took place, asked the state government to file an explanation on the reason why he was exonerated.
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader had to resign in March 2017 after a "sleaze chat" of his with a woman journalist had surfaced.
Last week, a lower court here cleared Saseendran of the charge, but a woman named Maha Lekshmi filed a petition in the Kerala High Court questioning the way the case was disposed off by the lower court.
Lekshmi had earlier also approached the lower court requesting that Saseendran should not be cleared. But her plea was dismissed.
The lower court on Saturday gave a clean chit to Saseendran after the woman journalist backtracked, telling the court that Saseendran never misbehaved with her, and nor was she sure whether it was the then Minister who had spoken to her over the phone.
Earlier in the day in the Kerala assembly, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala questioned the manner in which Saseendran has been allowed to return as minister and how through this, the much-talked about statement of the Left about "respect to womanhood' has been compromised by the Vijayan government.
As the swearing in was going on, the Congress' youth wing held protests all across the state while in front of the state secretariat here, senior Congress legislator K.Muraleedharan said that with Saseendran's re-induction, the Vijayan government's image has taken a severe beating.
"No one understands the rationale behind Vijayan's adamant stand of allowing a tainted character like Saseendran to return to his cabinet," he said.