Titanium Case: HC Stays Vigilance Court Directive

Published: 02nd September 2014 06:15 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd September 2014 06:15 AM   |  A+A-

KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Monday stayed for three weeks the Thiruvananthapuram Vigilance Court’s directive to register an FIR against the persons allegedly involved in the Travancore Titanium corruption case and conduct a probe.

Justice Abraham Mathew issued the order on a petition filed by T Balakrishnan, former chairman of the board of directors of the TTP, seeking to quash the Vigilance Court order. The court also issued notice to the state government and others.

The Vigilance Court had ordered to register FIR against Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Home Minister Ramesh Chennithala, PWD Minister V K Ebrahim Kunju and six others.

Counsel for the petitioner S Rajive submitted that the procedure adopted by the Special Judge is unheard of. The learned Special Judge, at a pre-cognizance stage, considered the material and weighed the materials discussed in the preliminary report and came to a conclusion. The Special Judge also failed to appreciate one important aspect that the petitioners as well as some of the other accused were shown as accused in the capacity as public servants and the allegations have close nexus with their official capacity.

He pointed out that the Special Judge, while disposing of the application, made the observation without giving an opportunity to the proposed accused and came to the conclusion that sanction under section 19 is not required to prosecute the accused since they have already ceased from the office.

But, the Special Judge failed to appreciate the fact that the offences mentioned in the complaint also included an offence punishable under section 120 B IPC for which sanction under section 197 of the CrPC is required.

Sanction under section 197 of the CrPC is mandatory and the Special Judge without considering the dictum laid down by the Apex Court, forwarded the complaint to the VACB for registration and investigation and submission of the final report, the petitioner stated.

The gist of the allegation is that the accused conspired together to siphon off the fund of TTPL in furtherance of the conspiracy with M/s MECON, Ranchi, Uttaranchal, who was appointed as consultant for the construction of effluent treatment plant.

It was alleged that, as per the agreement with the MECON company the consultancy charges were fixed at Rs 3.5 crore, but an excess amount was paid to the company without any fresh contract.

The total estimated cost as per the directions of the consultant company would come around Rs 258 crore. No global tender was invited to award the construction of the effluent treatment plant.

The allegation was that instead of erecting an effluent treatment plant costing around Rs 8 crore the accused persons colluded with other persons and tried to erect more expensive machinery with an intention to make unlawful gains to the accused.

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