ALSO READVigilance to register case against ex-Kerala Minister Kerala HC orders land survey in ex-Minister's case Chandy gets interim relief in solar scam case Kerala HC quashes FIR against Chandy, others in 'land grab' case Kerala HC quashes FIR against Chandy, others in 'land grab' case (Lead, correcting para four )
The Kerala High Court today quashed an FIR against former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, former Chief Secretary E K Bharat Bhushan and three others in an alleged land scam, noting that it was based on "assumed facts and false statements". The court gave the verdict on petitions filed by Bhushan and two others, seeking to quash the FIR registered by the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB). The FIR deals with alleged irregularities in construction of a building and shifting a sewage pipeline of Kerala Water Authority (KWA) in Pattoor in Thiruvananthapuram when Chandy was the chief minister in the previous Congress-led UDF government. The charge was that Bhushan and Chandy committed criminal misconduct by abusing their official positions to cause undue advantage to the builders. They allegedly permitted the realtor to shift the KWA sewerage pipeline that passed through the middle of his property to ensure that it does not pose a hindrance to the realtor's development plans. Quashing the FIR, Justice K Abraham Mathew said even if the allegation in the FIR that the property in dispute belongs to KWA was accepted as true, the actions of the accused would not attract provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act since shifting of the sewerage line from one part of its property to another part did not give any pecuniary advantage to the company. "In other words, the FIR does not disclose commission of any offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act," he said. The court said the case was registered on assumed facts and false statements borrowed from the report prepared by the Additional Director of the Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau, who ordered the 'Quick Verification'. The court also made scathing observations against the then top vigilance officer who initiated legal action in the case. It said the facts and circumstances of the case indicated mala fide intention and ulterior motive on the part of the police officer concerned, "which is discernible to a person who reads between the lines". "Preconceptions and misconceptions, predictions and predeterminations of a police officer shall not be the basis for registration of a case, especially, for an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act," the Court said. In the judgement, Justice Mathew said, "The discussion takes me to the conclusion that the FIR is liable to be quashed.
It is true that only accused 1, 3 and 5 have filed writ petitions for quashing the FIR. But since the other accused are parties to these petitions, the FIR will be quashed in respect of them also." The court, however, said the judgement would not be an impediment for the Lokayukta to proceed with the case before it or against any person who maybe found to have committed any offence in connection with any matter other than the shifting of the sewerage line. "It will not be an impediment for the government to take steps to ascertain the extent of land the company is entitled to under its title deeds or recover 'poramboke' (government land) which may be found in its illegal possession. The FIR named Bhushan as third accused, Chandy as fourth accused and Managing Director of Artech Realtors T S Ashok as the fifth accused. Two former executive engineers of the Kerala Water Authority are the first and second accused in the case.
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