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HC quashes 'land scam' FIR against former CM Chandy, 4 others

Press Trust of India  |  Kochi 

The High Court today quashed an FIR against former Oommen Chandy, former Chief 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 (VACB).

The FIR deals with alleged irregularities in construction of a building and shifting a sewage pipeline of Water Authority (KWA) in Pattoor in Thiruvananthapuram when was the in the previous Congress-led UDF government.

The charge was that Bhushan and 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 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 of the Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau, who ordered the 'Quick Verification'.

The court also made scathing observations against the then top vigilance 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 concerned, "which is discernible to a person who reads between the lines".

"Preconceptions and misconceptions, predictions and predeterminations of a 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, as fourth accused and of as the fifth accused.

Two former executive engineers of the Water Authority are the first and second accused in the case.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, February 09 2018. 19:10 IST