Kochi: The High Court on Friday quashed the First Information Report and the Vigilance probe against former chief minister Oommen Chandy, former chief secretary E.K. Bharat Bhushan and three others in the Pattoor land case. The court order, a major setback to the state government, has come as a relief to Chandy, Bharat Bhushan and others.
The three others involved in the case are R. Somasekkharan Nair and S. Madhu, executive engineers of Kerala Water Authority, and T.S. Ashok, the owner of the company that promoted the apartment complex. The court issued the order on a petition filed by Bharat Bhushan seeking the quashing of the case. Stating that there was no prima facie evidence in the case, the court criticised the former Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau director Jacob Thomas, who led the probe in the case. He had failed to furnish any solid evidence or detailed report other than stating that the Pattoor land records were incomplete.
The court pointed out that Jacob Thomas appeared before the court only once and then disappeared for surfacing only on the social media. Saying that his actions amount to contempt of court, the judgment stated that it was high time an official of seniority is taught about discipline. The court also expressed doubts whether he was suitable for holding the position of DGP. The Pattoor case is connected with the allegation that 12.5 cents of revenue land was appropriated by a private company promoting a residential apartment complex at Pattoor in the heart of Thiruvananathapuram city.
The five accused were allegedly involved in facilitating the encroachment of the government land by the company. Former chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan had approached the Vigilance court seeking a probe in the matter. The FIR was registered in the case following the Vigilance court raising the issue with the preliminary probe stating that relocating the pipeline had resulted in huge losses to the KWA. Jacob Thomas had submitted an affidavit before the Lok Ayukta that the Patoor land records were incomplete. The High Court has summoned Jacob Thomas in this connection and asked him to submit a written affidavit.