Palmolein case takes political turn as polls approach

Written by: Pti
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Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 26 (PTI) In a new turn in thepalmolein import graft case, the ruling LDF Government todayfiled a petition in the Special Vigilance Court hearing thecase, seeking further probe holding that some more personswere likely to be named as accused.

In the petition, the government said the investigationagency proposed to conduct further probe in the case, in whichCentral Vigilance Commissioner P J Thomas is also an accused,regarding the involvement of other persons.

The move is seen as an apparent attempt to drag Congressleader Oommen Chandy, who was Finance Minister in the UDFgovernment headed by late K Karunakaran which cleared the dealin 1992, in the case.

Chandy''s name came up in connection with a dischargepetition filed by the then food minister T H Mustaffa, anaccused in the case.

In his petition, Mustaffa held that it was fair to havespared Chandy in the case but the same yardstick of fairnesshad not been not applied in his case. He had said theprosecution rightly did not find fault with Chandy butunjustly arraigned him as an accused.

Seizing on Mustaffa''s petition, the LDF Government has oflate made veiled threats of arraigning Chandy, a chiefministerial contender of the UDF, as an accused in the case.

Mustaffa''s counsel, however, opposed the governmentpetition saying the contents of his discharge petition were"wilfully distorted and misused for political gains".

The judge, Justice S Jagadeesh, posted the hearing on thepetition for March 7.

The case relates to alleged corruption in importingpalmolein from Malaysia at exorbitant rates, which allegedlycaused a loss to the enchequer to tune of Rs 2.32 crore in1991-92 when Karunarakan was the Chief Minister and P J Thomasthe Food Secretary and a member of the Board of the KeralaState Civil Supplies Corporation.

Thomas has been listed as the eighth accused in thechargesheet filed by the Vigilance and Anti-corruption Bureauin 2003.

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