Court hears Saritha’s statement in ‘secret’

Key solar scam accused Saritha S Nair gave a secret statement to a court on Saturday confounding the mysteries shrouding the multi-million scam rocking Kerala for nearly two months now.

By T K Devasia

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Published: Mon 22 Jul 2013, 12:57 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 3:49 PM

Saritha, who has been behind bars since June 2, 2013, recorded her statement before the Ernakulam Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate’s Court dealing with economic offences. Barring her counsel Fenny Balakrishnan none else was allowed to be present during the recording of the statement.

After hearing the accused for 10 minutes, the magistrate asked her to give the statement in writing. The court has permitted the lawyer to take down the statement. Fenny said he will meet her at the jail and prepare the statement shortly.

The advocate has refused to divulge the contents of the statement. He said he had strict instructions from the court not to reveal the details. However, he said the information given by Saritha was crucial and might influence the course of the investigation in the scam.

He said that the court might order a separate investigation on the information provided by Saritha, who has been accused of duping a large number of people of millions of rupees by promising to provide solar panel and agencies along with her live-in partner, Biju Radhakrishnan. The scam rattled the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) government after the involvement of some members of the personal staff of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy came to light. The opposition has alleged involvement of Chandy himself in the scam and demanded his resignation and a judicial probe.

Saritha’s statement was keenly watched by the media since her lawyer had said on Friday that she would reveal more names of higher-ups in the political and social spectrum. He said there were many who did not come under the police scanner so far. Most of them have taken share of the money fraudulently accumulated, Fenny said.

Saritha had expressed her desire to make a statement when she was produced before the court in the morning at the end of her police custody. She sought the court’s permission to make the statement through the advocate. However, the court asked her to give the statement directly.

Meanwhile, legal experts have questioned the court’s decision to keep Saritha’s statement secret. Leading advocate and senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader P S Sreedharan Pillai said the court was bound to keep only statements made under section 164 secret.

He said that the court could not take the statement as evidence. “If it is related to the investigation being carried out by the police the court has to pass the information to them,” he added.

Another senior lawyer S Ramkumar said the statement may not have any legal validity but it might be significant in the investigation of the crime. He said that the accused had right to bring matters not considered by the investigators to the attention of the court.

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