Kerala Congress (J) leader and former PWD minister P J Joseph, who was charged with molestation and sexual harassment of a woman TV anchor in 2006, was on Monday acquitted by a local court in Kancheepuram.
Acquitting the Joseph, Judicial Magistrate at Sriperumpudur N Krishnaswami said the case is being dismissed as it lacks proper basis, witnesses and evidence.
Reacting to the verdict, Joseph, who was present in court along with family members and party leaders, thanked God and said that the "truth has finally come out."
The case pertains to Joseph allegedly misbehaving with the woman, Lakshmi Gopakumar during a flight from Kochi to Chennai on August 3, 2006. She lodged a complaint with the flight crew and later with police at Meenambakkam in Chennai.
The issue created a political storm in Kerala, leading to Joseph quitting his post from the LDF ministry, headed by V S Achuthanandan.
The Kerala government instituted an inquiry by IG Sandhya, which reportedly found some substance in the complaint of the victim.
The case was earlier heard by the judicial magistrate at Alandur, but was later transferred to Sriperumpudur.
The KC(J) had nominated T U Kuruvilla to the ministerial post after Joseph quit. But Kuruvilla also had to resign after facing allegations of handling irregular land deals. Following this Mons Joseph became PWD minister.
Mons Joseph told reporters at Kottayam that he had informed Joseph he was ready to resign his post following the latter's acquittal.
He said he would continue as Minister till the party leadership took a favourable decision.
LDF convenor Vaikom Viswan also expressed happiness over Joseph's acquittal and said a decision to include him in the ministry would be taken later.