Thodupuzha: A court in this Kerala town has served summons on state Water Resources Minister PJ Joseph seeking his appearance in a case of sending lewd SMSes to a local woman.
Issuing the summons, Thodupuzha`s judicial magistrate (first class) asked Joseph, the working chairman of the Kerala Congress (Mani), to appear before him on Oct 22.
The court was hearing the case of Surabhi Das, who complained she got several lewd SMSes from a particular mobile number and upon investigation found that it belonged to Joseph.
Das filed her petition on March 18 this year, when assembly elections were round the corner and Joseph had already begun his campaign to contest the Thodupuzha assembly seat in Idukki district.
The court, before asking that a case be registered, had taken statements from BSNL officials as the mobile that Joseph used was a BSNL number.
Reacting to the developments, Joseph said that he will prove his innocence and ruled out resigning as a minister.
"I am happy that the court will hear me and I will deal with this case legally. This issue surfaced ahead of the assembly polls and at the moment it is too early to say if there is any political conspiracy behind this," he said.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said that he is not aware of the details of the case and hence could not comment.
Joseph incidentally had to resign as a Minister from the V.S. Achuthanandan cabinet in 2006, a few months after the new Left government was sworn in, following a case of his misbehaviour with a woman on board a flight from Chennai to Kochi.
At that time, Joseph headed the Kerala Congress (Joseph) party which was an ally of the Left Democratic Front.
In 2009, a Chennai court exonerated him in the case of misbehaviour, following which he returned as a minister in the Achuthanandan cabinet.
But in 2010, he again quit after his party merged with the Kerala Congress (Mani), an ally of the Congress-led United Democratic Front.