Palmolein case posted to March 24

Thrissur: A Vigilance court here Thursday posted to March 24 the further hearing of the 1992 palmolein import case, in which CPI-M veteran and opposition leader in the Kerala Assembly V S Achuthanandan filed a petition to implead himself as a petitioner.

Vigilance court Judge V Bhaskaran posted the petition of Achuthanandan also to March 24 for further hearing.

Achuthanandan had challenged an investigation report by Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) giving a clean chit to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in the deal.

The VACB in its report submitted to the court on January seven had stated that there was no ground for listing Chandy as an accused in the palmolein import corruption case, when he was the Finance Minister in the UDF Ministry headed by late K Karunakaran.

The report said there was no evidence to include Chandy as an accused in the case as facts, evidences and circumstances in the further investigation revealed that Chandy had not committed any illegal acts or omissions in his capacity as Finance Minister then, the report had said.

Though Chandy was not an accused in the case originally, his name figured following a discharge petition filed by former Food Minister T H Mustaffa.

Mustaffa, an accused in the case, had pleaded that justice given to Chandy by not making him an accused in the case should be given to him (Mustaffa) also.

Seizing on the development, the previous CPI(M) led-LDF government filed a petition seeking further investigation in the case, stating more persons were likely to become accused.

The long-pending corruption case, in which Karunakaran was first accused, had cost P J Thomas the post of Central Vigilance Commissioner. He was listed as the sixth accused in the case relating to import of 32,000 tonnes of palmolein from Malyasia, causing a loss of Rs 2.32 crore to the exchequer.

P A Ahamed, Special Prosecutor in the case appointed by previous LDF regime resigned from the post last week holding that he was not satisfied with the further investigation report.