Kerala HC orders CBI probe into sandalwood smuggling case

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Kochi, Apr 10 (UNI) The Kerala High Court today directed the CBI to investigate and file a final report in the Valyar sandalwood smuggling case within one year.

A Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice H L Dattu and Mr Justice K M Joseph, gave the direction after perusing an affidavit filed by the CBI, stating that it was ready to take over the investigation into the case.

Earlier, the CBI had expressed reluctance to take over the case, contending that it was not possible to investigate a crime which took place two-and-a-half years ago.

The CBI's initial stand had drawn the court's ire, which had verbally criticised the agency for taking contradictory stands in different cases.

The Valyar smuggling case related to the large-scale smuggling of sandalwood and allied products from the Mariyoor and other reserved forests in the State to the Valyar Rural Industries in Palakkad district.

The Kerala Government had submitted in the court that the case should be investigated by the CBI as former State Forests Minister K P Viswanathan had resigned following an adverse remark against him by the High Court while considering the bail application of an accused in the case.

The court order came on a petition filed by Mr R Gokul Prasad from Palakkad, complaining that the CBI had not started investigating the case despite a State Government recommendation for handing over the case to it.

UNI XR ARC LS KP1357

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