Kerala asks CBI to probe sexual harassment case in solar scam, Cong cries foul
- The Kerala government's decision ask the CBI to probe accusations of sexual harassment against Congress leaders came days after the grand old party named Oomen Chandy head of its election management committee.
The Marxist government in Kerala on Sunday decided to hand over a sexual harassment case in the solar scam which virtually led to the fall of Oommen Chandy regime five years ago, to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), ahead of the assembly elections in the state and after Chandy was named chief of the Congress election management committee.
The opposition Congress decried the move and said it was a politically-motivated decision eying the assembly elections. It and the party will deal with it legally and politically.
“At least three senior police officers investigated the case and found there was no evidence to prove her claims. Almost five years the government sat over the case and explored many ways to make it alive. Neck-deep in corruption, gold smuggling and drug trafficking charges it dusted out an old case as a face-saver,” said senior Congress leader K C Joseph.
The government claimed it was justified in handing over the case to the CBI.
“It is a natural process. The government ordered the central agency probe after the woman in question approached it,” said state law minister A K Balan justifying the move.
Nair had petitioned Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan last week complaining that she was yet to get justice in sexual assault cases she filed against many Congress leaders and she wanted a central agency probe. The government moved quickly apparently to checkmate the opposition that has been accusing it of collusion in the gold smuggling case.
The solar scam involves Saritha Nair and her second husband Biju Radhakrishnan, who was later convicted in a murder case. In 2013, the couple floated a fictitious company called ‘Team Solar’ and cheated many people by promising them stakes in the firm and high returns after selling imported solar panels. They allegedly cultivated influential sources in corridors of power and flaunted them to attract gullible investors.
The cheating case came to light in 2014 and 60 cases were registered against the two accused. Oomen Chandy who was then the chief minister, had sacked two of his private secretaries and the state public relations director when their names allegedly cropped up in the case. Later the main accused Nair had raised sexual assault charges against many Congress leaders including Chandy, K C Venugopal, Adoor Prakash MP, A P Anil Kumar, Hibi Eden MP and others. The government had also constituted a judicial commission.
Nair was sentenced in at last six cases and is currently out on bail. In the 2019 parliamentary election, she had filed her nomination against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in Wayanad but her papers were rejected on grounds of her conviction. Last year the Supreme Court had dismissed her plea questioning Gandhi’s election and imposed a fine of ₹10,000 on her.
The Marxist government had earlier sought legal opinion in the sexual harassment case and was reportedly advised that “her allegations were weak and would not stand legal scrutiny.”
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