KOCHI: For retired IAS officer TO Sooraj, corruption cases are nothing new in his life. However, for Kerala, it is rare to witness an IAS officer arrested in a corruption case. With the Palarivattom flyover corruption case, the retired IAS officer now faces 34 Vigilance Cases, Vigilance Enquiries and Quick Verifications. A native of Kottarakkara, he retired from service last year after being charged with amassing wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income.
Though there were several recommendations to suspend Sooraj from service including by former Vigilance Director Siby Mathews, he was strongly backed by political fronts. Started as a forest ranger, he was conferred IAS in 1994. The controversy started to surround Sooraj since 2002 when he was appointed the District Collector of Kozhikode.
The Judicial Commission that probed the Maradu riots in 2003 held Sooraj responsible for the civil administration’s failure in taking action to prevent the massacre. However, the UDF government did not initiate any action against him.
Three vigilance cases were registered against him when he was the Kozhikode Collector but further action in the case was dropped by the Vigilance Court following the recommendation of the government. Sooraj’s involvement in a land grab case involving former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy’s gunman Salim Raj was initially suspected by the CBI. However, he was given a clean chit by the agency later.
It was in 2014 Sooraj landed in trouble after the VACB Special Cell registered a case against him in the disproportionate wealth amassment case. The investigation in the case was proceeding at a snail’s pace till the LDF government came to power and appointed DGP Jacob Thomas as the Vigilance Director in 2016. The probe revealed that he had amassed assets worth I11 crore which were 314 per cent more than his known sources of income.
Later, the Enforcement Directorate also intervened and froze his properties. Recently, the Vigilance Court ordered to attach the properties owned by Sooraj and his family members found to have been amassed as disproportionate assets.