The High Court of Kerala quashed the FIR against the Opposition leader VS Achuthanandan in a land case framed by the Vigilance and Anti-corruption Department. While delivering the verdict, Justice AS Satish Chandran made scathing remarks against the Vigilance department and the government for targeting VS in a graft case. The judge observed that the government had misused the Vigilance Department in trapping VS in a politically motivated graft case. The Vigilance Department chargesheeted 89-year-old VS in the graft case alleging he had allocated 2.33 acres of land in Kasargod district to his relative TK Soman and his wife in 2011 flouting all norms
Apart from the former Chief Minister, his personal assistant Suresh, former Revenue Minister K P Rajendran and four senior IAS officials had been listed as accused in the FIR filed in a court in Kozhikode after a vigilance probe reportedly found prima facie evidence against them. Later the UDF government dropped charges against IAS officials. The case attracted national media attention after Information Commissioner Natarajan, a former IPS officer tried to influence the investigation officer VG Kunjan and pressurised him to drop the case against VS Achuthanandan. Natarajan was suspended by the Governor after a police probe conducted Additional Director General of Police found him guilty of the charges. VS has approached the High Court stating the government is trying to slap false cases against him to tarnish his image and using the Vigilance Department for its political gains. The Single bench judge blasted the government for framing “false and frivolous” charges against VS Achuthanandan who has a clean image as a political leader.
“The charges were unworthy of any merit. Some features presented in the case were too disturbing and gives enough room to generate suspicion that the government machinery of Police Vigilance is misused and abused to silence political opponents,” said the judge in a 54-page-long verdict. The court also observed that the investigation officers do not have a basic understanding of criminal procedures and ordered to quash the FIR. Jubilant VS Achuthanandan welcomed the verdict and termed it as a mortal blow to the Congress led UDF for framing him in a false case.“ Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Industries Minister PK Kunjalikutty plotted against me to tarnish my image in public. Now the truth has come out. They conspired against me along with “others“ to remove me from the post of Opposition Leader and enthrone their favourites in the position,” Achuthanandan told Tehelka .
He attacked his detractors in CPI (M) for making an unholy nexus with the UDF leaders in framing false cases against him. “I’ll continue my fight against the corrupt. They can’t silence me with mudslinging tactics,” he added. Earlier Achuthanandan had announced that he would resign if he is chargesheeted in the graft case. But the CPI (M) central leadership directed him to fight the case morally and legally. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy was on the defensive as the verdict has challenged the credibility of his government. Recovering from the initial shock, the government filed an appeal before the Division bench headed by Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice AM Siddique in which has stayed the order of the single bench in the VS case.
Jeemon Jacob is Bureau Chief, South with Tehelka.