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VS Achuthanandan, Centre back Kerala governor

india Updated: Jun 11, 2009 00:08 IST
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Cite 2004 Supreme Court ruling to say Gavai within his right

Badgered by the CPI-M over his permission to prosecute its state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan for corruption, Kerala Governor R S Gavai finally heard some voices of support on Wednesday.

The Centre joined Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan in justifying why the governor ignored the Kerala cabinet’s recommendation to withhold sanction to prosecute Vijayan, 65.

Sources said Union Home Minister P Chidambaram was miffed at the manner at which Raj Bhavan was being dragged into a political controversy when Gavai was well within his powers.

Chidambaram, who trained as a lawyer, discussed the issue with home ministry officials and is understood to have pointed to the 2004 judgment of the Supreme Court that upheld the governor’s power to reject the Madhya Pradesh cabinet’s recommendation and sanction the prosecution of state ministers charged with corruption.

The court had held that if the governor was bound by cabinet’s advice in such cases, democracy would be at stake as people in power might break the law with impunity, safe in the knowledge that they won’t be prosecuted.

Chidambaram’s view was echoed in Thiruvananthapuram where Achuthanandan flouted the party line to come to Gavai’s defence.

“The governor’s decision is not at all surprising. He must have weighed such precedents properly,” he declared after the weekly cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

The CM too cited the SC verdict to justify the decision.

Vijayan was power minister when the state signed an agreement with Canadian firm SNC Lavalin to modernize three hydel projects. The CBI has arraigned him as the ninth accused in the case in which the state reportedly lost crores of rupees.

The chief minister’s justification flies in the face of the CPM leadership’s stand that called the governor’s decision “unfortunate”. And it has sent shockwaves in party circles. “I don’t know what prompted the CM to say so,” party leader M.V. Govindan said.

But Opposition leader Oommen Chandy said: “We welcome his (CM’s) remarks. The state home minister who criticized the governor should go now. How can the CM run a ministry in which he has no faith?