Petition against move to promote Jiji as Kerala Chief Secretary

Sudhakaran, a native of Erumeli in Kottayam district, has urged the court to prevent the move as Jiji is facing trial in the palmolein import corruption case.

By T K Devasia

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Published: Wed 28 Jan 2015, 9:07 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 9:01 PM

Trivandrum: A public interest petition challenging Kerala’s Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) government’s move to appoint Additional Chief Secretary Jiji Thomson as Chief Secretary was filed in the high court on Tuesday.

Sudhakaran, a native of Erumeli in Kottayam district, has urged the court to prevent the move as Jiji is facing trial in the palmolein import corruption case.

The high court had early this month rejected the IAS officer’s plea to quash the proceedings initiated against him in the case.

The court had also dismissed the state government’s petition challenging a vigilance court order rejecting its plea to withdraw the two-decade-old case. While dismissing Jiji’s petition, Justice P. Ubaid, said there were sufficient material to substantiate the prosecution allegation that the deal was vicious in nature.

Jiji was the managing director of the Kerala Civil Supplies Corporation when the then UDF government headed late K Karunakaran imported 15,000 tonnes of palm oil from a Malaysian firm allegedly in violation of the purchase rules. It caused a loss of Rs23 million to the state exchequer, according to the prosecution.

Jiji, who was working as director-general of Sports Authority of India, was brought back by the state government with the objective of elevating him as chief secretary in place of the current incumbent, E K Bharath Bhushan, who retires from service on January 31.

Leader of opposition and former chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan has also opposed the state government’s move to appoint Jiji as chief secretary on similar grounds. He has termed the move a violation of the Supreme Court verdict in similar cases.

While considering a petition filed against the appointment of P.J. Thomas, who is also an accused in the palm oil case, as chief vigilance commissioner of India, the apex court had made it clear that accused officials should not be considered for promotion.

The palmolein case was registered in 1999 when the Left Democratic Front (LDF) led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) was in power. Besides Jiji, Karunakaran, then food minister T.H. Mustafa and Thomas are the main accused in the case.

The government sought to withdraw the case saying that the sanction granted for prosecuting the IAS officers was not in accordance with law and three important witnesses in the case had died.

However, the court said that issues of sanction were all matters to be decided during trial. Cases cannot be withdrawn because some witnesses had died, the court said adding that the withdrawal from prosecution would convey wrong message to society.

news@khaleejtimes.com



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