Judge recuses from hearing palmolein import case

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Thiruvananthapuram, Sep 24: The Vigilance court judge, who had ordered investigation into the role of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in the 1992 Palmolein import case, today (Sept 24) recused himself from the case, saying there was "some personal attack" against him through the media for passing the order last month.

Announcing his decision while taking up the case suo motu, Special Judge P K Haneefa said he had passed an order in the case on August 8 with "clear judicious consciousness and due procedure demanded." "But, unfortunately there was some personal attack against me through the media.So, I do not think, it is fair on my part to continue to hear the case further," Haneefa said.

Haneefa said he had also requested the Kerala High court to take necessary steps to transfer the case to other courts, The case would stand posted to November 10, he said. The court had suo-motu advanced the case for today.

Meanwhile, Chandy told reporters at Kochi that no one had said anything against the judge. "I have openly said earlier also that I have no complaint against the judge," he said.

Haneefa had on August 8 ordered a probe against Chandy, who was the Finance Minister when the deal was signed, after rejecting the report filed by investigators three months ago that there was no ground for any further investigation in the case. 

Ruling UDF chief whip P C George had lodged a complaint against Haneefa with the President and Supreme Court Chief Justice and had also questioned his impartiality in the case.

He had also alleged that the court's only intention was to make Chandy an accused in the case.

The case pertains to import of 32,000 tonnes of palmolein from Malaysia allegedly causing a loss of Rs 2.32 crore to the state exchequer.Late Congress leader K Karunakaran was Chief Minister at that time.

When it was pointed out that George had made some scathing remarks against the judge in his complaint, Chandy said he had stated his views on the matter earlier also.

None of the parties in the case have said that they have no confidence in the judge, he added.

While Chandy, KPCC and UDF disassociated themselves from George's move, CPI-M led LDF Opposition had termed it as a move to intimidate the judiciary.

Meanwhile, the CPI-M alleged that the UDF government failed to provide protection to the judiciary in the state.

Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan charged Chandy with ''using'' George to put pressure on the Special Court Judge. George's move had Chandy's blessings and encouragement, he alleged.

The government was using the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau Director Desmond Netto also to scuttle vigilance cases against congress ministers in the state, he further alleged.

Achuthanandan questioned Netto's reported recommendation to the government to give up vigilance probe against P V Sreenijan, son-in-law of former Supreme Court Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, for allegedly amassing wealth disproportionate to known sources of income.

CPI-M State Secretary Pinarayi Vijayan alleged that the judge recused himself from hearing the case due to political pressure put on him by Congress and UDF partner

PTI

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