What is 2013 Kerala solar panel scam and how is Oommen Chandy linked to it?

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Published: November 9, 2017 5:29:48 PM

Some local media reports even say that Saritha Nair and her partner used to impress potential investors by calling the then CM’s staff directly on the phone.

Solar scam, Oommen Chandy, 2013 Kerala solar panel scam, Kerala, Pinarayi VijayanSolar scam, Oommen Chandy, 2013 Kerala solar panel scam, Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan

A mega political uproar has hit Kerala over the alleged Solar Scam in which former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy allegedly stands accused of helping those involved in the case. The political slugfest started after Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan tabled a judicial commission report accusing Chandy and his staff members – Tenny Joppen, Jikkumon Jacob and gunman Salim Raj – of allegedly helping the prime accused, Saritha S Nair and Biju Radhakrishnan. The report also accused then home minister T Radhakrishnan of trying to shield Chandy from criminal liability. The chief minister had directed an inquiry against Chandy and others in connection with the case on October 11.  The directive had come days after the Commission headed by Justice G. Sivarajan, which probed the multi-crore scam, submitted its final report to him.

So, what are the details of this scam and how is Chandy linked to it?

Initially, the ‘solar scam’ was nothing but a simple cheating case. In June 2013, a businessman named Sajad filed a complaint that a couple had cheated him by taking Rs 40 lakh as consultation fee in lieu of making him a partner in their solar fields project but nothing materialized. Following this complaint,  Kerala police arrested Saritha S Nair along with her live-in partner Biju Radhakrishnan, who were partners in a Kochi based firm that offered solar energy solutions.

It was reported that the couple used to collect investments from businessmen and NRIs, promising to make them partners. In order to woo the investors, the couple used to flaunt their political connections and proximity to the then CM Chandy – this was amongst the most-talked about issue in the case. Some local media reports even say that Saritha Nair and her partner used to impress potential investors by calling the then CM’s staff directly on the phone and one such meeting reportedly took place in the CM’s conference room.

Some of the local media channels such as Manorama News and Asianet News reported at the time that Saritha Nair’s call records showed that several calls were made to the then CM’s staff members, including Joppen, whose cellphone Oommen Chandy is known to use. As per a report by Manorama News, Saritha’s letter dated July 19, 2013, named the then CM Chandy and other top leaders in UDF as those who sought sexual favors from her in connection with the solar scam.

Later, the Judicial Magistrate Court in Perumbavoor had sentenced the duo to three years in prison and a fine of Rs. 10,000 each. Chandy had deposed before the Commission in December 2016, saying that the charges against him were politically motivated.

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