Coming down heavily against the office of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, the Kerala High Court today said he is "anwserable" to the State over the appointment of his personal staff, as it ordered a CBI probe into two land grabbing cases against his former gunman.
The court held that authorities at the helm of affairs in the state have not been "prudent and responsible" in appointing personal staff with integrity and character. "The Chief Minister's office should be a model institution serving the people of the State," Justice Harun-Ul-Rashid said, ordering a CBI probe in two land grabbing cases against Salim Raj, a former gunman of the CM.
Delivering the 132-page judgement while allowing petitions in the land grabbing cases in Thrikkakara here and Kadakkampally in Thiruvananthapuram, the court said the CBI probe should be completed in nine months.
Besides the two cases, a criminal case was registered against Raj for kidnapping by Kozhikode Police last year.
Pointing to the involvement of another personal staff of Chief Minister in a Solar panel scam case in which Saritha Nair is a key accused, the court held that all the incidents have "evoked shock and surprise" among people of the state.
The alleged involvement of members of the personal staff of the Chief Minister's office in criminal acts has come to the attention of this court at multiple instances, it held.
This shows that "the authorities at the helm of affairs of the administration in the state have not been prudent and responsible in appointing personal staff with integrity and character," the court observed. "The above incidents have raised serious questions on the functioning of the Chief Minister's office for which the Chief minister is answerable to the State," it said.
The court held that prima facie evidence of the presence of "unscrupulous elements" among personal staff in the Chief Minister's office and associated criminal activities in these cases calls for a "thorough and independent" investigation.
It held that a direction for CBI investigation was necessary since offences have been made out prima facie by several persons, including higher officials and persons capable of wielding high influence and pressure in the field of administration. The state government had expressed no objection in ordering CBI probe, the court held.
Justice Rashid felt that no matter how faithfully and honestly local police may carry out the investigation, the same will lack credibility as allegations were directed against highest revenue officials, office of the Chief Minister and others. "If the majesty of the rule of law is to be upheld and if it is to be ensured that the guilty are punished in accordance with law notwithstanding their status and authority which they might have enjoyed, it is desirable to entrust the investigation to CBI," the court held.