In a setback to the opposition Congress-led UDF, the Kerala government today ordered a vigilance probe against former chief minister Oommen Chandy and former power minister Aryadan Mohammed in connection with the multi-crore solar scam. A decision in this regard was taken on the basis of the findings of the Justice G Sivarajan Commission, which probed the scam and had last month submitted its report to the government, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan today said. The government also decided to launch further probe into the scam by a special investigation team against Chandy, Mohammed and another former minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, after registering a case against them, he told reporters. Two former congress MLAs -- Thampanoor Ravi and Benny Benhanan -- have also been brought under the ambit of the probe. The commission was appointed by the previous Oommen Chandy government after allegations surfaced about duping of several people of crores of rupees by prime accused Saritha Nair and Biju Radhakrishnan by offering solar panel solutions. Reacting to the government's decision, Chandy said he was prepared to face any probe. "We are not scared of any investigation as we have not committed any fraud," he said. "Why is the chief minister in a hurry to take action on a report which has not yet been published," Chandy asked. "Those who feel they can bring me down by raising such allegations, they are mistaken. I will come back stronger," he told reporters. Vijayan said a criminal case will be registered and the SIT will probe allegations of rape levelled by Saritha against some politicians in her letter dated July 17, 2013. According to the legal opinion received by the government, no inquiry had been held by the previous SIT on Saritha's allegations. A case should be registered against all the accused for sexual exploitation, rape and insulting womanhood, the chief minister said. Some Congress state ministers, MPS and MLAs were named by Saritha in the letter written by her when she was behind bars in connection with the solar scam case. According to the commission, Chandy and his personal staff - Tenny Joppen, Jikkumon Joseph, gunman Salim Raj and Kuruvilla, a helper in Delhi - had helped Saritha's Team Solar company to cheat people. Radhakrishnan, who was home and vigilance minister in the Chandy cabinet, had in order to protect the former chief minister, "illegally" used police officers under him to "influence" the case, Vijayan said. According to the legal opinion received by the government from Advocate General and Director General of Prosecutions, "Chandy had directly and through his personal staff had taken huge amounts as bribe from Saritha S Nair and her company", Vijayan said. A case under sections 7, 8, 9 and 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Vigilance case should be registered against them and probe held, he said. A criminal case would be filed against Radhakrishnan and SIT probe held, Vijayan said. According to the commission, a vigilance case should be registered against Aryadan Mohammed as he had helped Team Solar illegally. The commission also came out against the previous SIT, which had probed the case, saying it had tried to help Chandy and had failed to look into the role of state ministers, government officers, central ministers, MLAs and some police officers. The government also decided to register a case and SIT probe against IGP K Padmakumar and DYSP K Harikrishanan for their alleged role in "destroying evidence" in the case.
The role of former SIT head DGP M Hemachandran would also be probed. The report of the commission would be placed before the state assembly within six months, Vijayan said. Set up in October 2013, the commission had held 353 sittings, examined 214 witnesses and 972 documents. The four volume, 1073 page report was submitted to the government on September 26. Opposition leader in the state assembly Ramesh Chennithala said the government's decision on the probe against Chandy and others was "politically motivated" as it had come on a day when bypoll was being held at Vengara in Malappuram district. Senior congress leader and former defence minister A K Antony hit out at the LDF government for coming out with the report when the state was witnessing a bypoll. The move was "politically motivated", Antony said. KPCC president M M Hassan said the left government was acting with vengeance by registering cases against Congress leaders. The Congress was not afraid of any probe, he said, adding, it would face it politically and legally. A political affairs committee would soon meet to discuss the future course of action, he said. CPI(M) veteran V S Achuthanandan wanted Chandy and other Congress leaders, against whom the probe has been ordered, to quit politics. "Those who are corrupt and immoral should not continue in public life," he said. Saritha welcomed the government decision and said "justice has been done, though late.