Probe ordered into sexual misbehaviour case

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Thiruvananthapuram, Sept 8: The Kerala government today ordered a judicial inquiry into the allegations of sexual misbehaviour that led to the resignation of Public Works Minister P J Joseph.

Talking to newspersons here after a meeting of the State Cabinet, Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan said that service of a sitting judge would be sought for the inquiry to clear the doubts in the case. The terms of reference of the inquiry would be decided later.

Mr Joseph resigned from the Cabinet on September four following an 'adverse inquiry report' filed by Inspector General of Police B Sandhya alleging that he misbehaved with a woman co-passenger onboard a private airliner.

After submitting his resignation, Mr Joseph dismissed the findings in the inquiry report, saying it was incomplete. He met the Chief Minister yesterday to press for a judicial inquiry into the matter.

Asked whether criminal case would be filed against the former minister as per the findings of the IG, the Chief Minister said both the inquiries would not go together.

Trouble broke out for the 65-year-old Kerala Congress(J) leader, who had held key portfolios like Home, Revenue, Excise, Education and Housing in different governments in the past, after a co-passenger lodged a complaint with the pilot of Chennai-Kochi Kingfisher flight on August three that the person who sat behind her had misbehaved once cabin lights were switched off for take off.

Mr Joseph became the third minister in the recent past to bow out of the Cabinet in Kerala on account of sex scandals.

In the previous Oommen Chandy Cabinet, Senior Indian Union Muslim League leader and Industries Minister P K Kunhalikutty had to resign after a victim of a sex racket alleged he had sexually abused her when she was a minor.

In the E K Nayanar Cabinet, Transport and Forest Minister Neelalohitadasan Nadar was asked to submit his resignation after a senior woman IAS officer alleged the Minister tried to sexually abuse her.

Though the Kerala Congress(J) has nominated Mr T U Kuruvila as replacement for Mr Joseph in the Cabinet, the swearning-in could not be held as the Governor would return to the State Capital only on September 12.

Referring to the allegations that Mr Kuruvila was also involved in the Maitri Housing scandal, the Chief Minister said the Left Democratic Front would take a decision on the matter.


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