THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Faced with flak from all sides, the Cabinet on Tuesday decided to withdraw a controversial decision exempting Vigilance-related issues concerning the chief minister, ministers and other key functionaries from the purview of the Right to Information Act (RTI). However, a government order exempting the ‘T’ branch of the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) from its ambit would stand, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said. According to Chandy, an office memorandum dated January 18, 2016, had ‘misinterpreted’ the requirements of the government order. The Cabinet had decided to withdraw the said office memorandum, he said. ‘’The GO is not intended to keep anything from the public, but to protect whistle-blowers on corruption. Only the ‘T’ branch of the Vigilance will be exempted. The Vigilance is not outside the ambit of the Act,’’ Chandy said.
The ‘T’ branch, he said, handled the preliminary stages of an investigation, and citing the Vigilance director’s letters written in 2009 and 2010 in that regard, he said that disclosures at that stage would imperil the progress of an investigation. The branch handled six aspects including surprise checks requiring secrecy, collection of intelligence, confidential inquiries, sources and files of top secret nature. However, the chief minister was vague on whether action was forthcoming against the officials who prepared the office memorandum.
CM’s Jibe at Prathapan
T’Puram: Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had his say on Tuesday on the debate surrounding aging contestants in the upcoming Assembly elections. ‘’Those who think they aren’t young anymore can withdraw,’’ he said, responding to KPCC chief V M Sudheeran’s take on nonagenarian V S Achuthanandan’s candidature and the announcement by Congress’s T N Prathapan not to contest ‘’this time.’’‘’Prathapan is young, isn’t he?’’ was Chandy’s response to the Kodungalloor MLA’s letter to the Congress leadership that he was moving aside for young blood to emerge. To a question from reporters, Chandy said ‘greed’ to contest need not be just to cling on to power, but to serve the public as well.