Kerala HC judge takes exception to CM's remarks

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Kochi, Nov 19 (UNI) Taking exception to recent statements by Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan on the palm oil import case, Justice S Sirijagan of the Kerala High Court today declined to hear the case and referred it to the Chief Justice for being posted before another judge.

Justice S Sirijagan, who had imposed a stay on the October 16 notification by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade, banning the import of palm oil into the country through Cochin Port, said the chief minister's remarks on the case were ''irresponsible''and against the dignity of the court.

The judge then referred the matter to Chief Justice H L Dattu for being posted before another bench.

Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan, while addressing a public meeting in Sulthan Batheri in Wayanad district on Saturday, had criticised the court stay on the notification which, he said, was meant to help coconut farmers in Kerala.

The Chief Minister had said that instead of protecting the local farmers, the court was protecting the interests of businessmen importing palm oil from abroad.

Justice Sirijagan had on November 16 declined to lift the stay on the notification and had posted the case for detailed hearing today.

He had also orally observed that the Central and state governments had not been able to substantiate their stand that the import of palm oil into the country was depressing the price of coconut oil.

The court had imposed the stay on October 26 on the petitions of Kozhikode-based Parrisons Foods Ltd. and Mumbai's Liberty Oil Mills, challenging the DGFT notification.

UNI

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