Kerala CM gets a breather, but his son’s name crops up in solar scam

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Thiruvanananthapuram | Published: January 30, 2016 12:04:29 AM

Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy on Friday got a two-month breather when the Kerala High Court stayed a lower court order that slapped an FIR against...

Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy on Friday got a two-month breather when the Kerala High Court stayed a lower court order that slapped an FIR against him and power minister Aryadan Mohammed in the solar panel scam case. At the same time, the third day of deposition at judicial commission probing the scam found Chandy’s son’s name cropping up, with unflattering connections.

A long string of disclosures against the CM in a corruption scandal had left the Chandy government skating on thin political ice, when Congress is dangerously close to state elections.

The petition of Chandy and Aryadan Mohammed came up before Justice P Ubaid, who put the lower court order on hold for two months. The solar scam, which is being probed by a commission headed by Justice G Sivaraman, was constituted by the chief minister in 2013 following massive protests by the Left-led Opposition. On Monday, the probe panel had quizzed the CM himself for nearly 14 hours in connection with the scam.

The prime accused in the swindling, Saritha Nair, had levelled bribery allegations against the chief minister on Wednesday. She told the inquiry commission that she gave Rs 1.90 crore to a person called Thomas Kuruvilla in New Delhi and that Kuruvilla represented Chandy. She had also alleged that Mohammed was given Rs 40 lakh. It was based on this that an activist PD Joseph approached the Thrissur Vigilance Court on Wednesday. The judge ordered an FIR to be registered against Chandy and his cabinet colleague.

Although the high court’s  stay on FIR has saved Chandy for the moment,  the deposition of Nair at  the Inquiry Commission has pushed the CM further to the wall. Nair has told the commission that the CM had plans to create an outfit called Kerala Renewable Energy Co-operative Society Limited, with his son Chandy Oommen and some of his relatives as directors. According to her, she had been asked to prepare a draft project report on this.

She told the commission that the chief minister had directed her that the solar panels for the new project could be purchased from US-based Starflake, an export-import firm, where his son Chandy Oommen had stakes.

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