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CBI opens probe into charges against Cong. leaders

Agency registers FIR based on solar scam case suspect’s statement

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has reportedly opened an inquiry into the allegation that at least five top Congress leaders had sought and received sexual favours from a businesswoman.

Former Chief Minister Oomen Chandy; All India Congress Committee general secretary K.C. Venugopal; former Ministers Adoor Prakash and A.P. Anil Kumar; Hiby Eden, MP; Abdullah Kutty, currently a top Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) functionary; are the respondents in the case.

The CBI has kept the FIR in the case a secret to protect the victim’s identity as mandated by law. It submitted the report at the CBI Special Court in Thiruvananthapuram last week.

The complaint

The complainant is an accused in the sensational solar investment fraud case that had bedevilled the 2011 Oommen Chandy government.

The “victim” had alleged the politicians had sought and received sexual favours from her, promising State support for her business venture.

The State police had in 2018 registered six cases against the politicians. However, the investigations had come to a dead-end. The alleged crime had spanned Kerala, New Delhi, and other States.

Panel observations

The police cases had provenance in a damning observation by the judicial commission appointed by Mr. Chandy to probe the so-called solar scam involving the complainant.

The commission recommended that the police probe those named by the woman as her sexual exploiters.

It concluded that demanding and accepting sexual favours for official patronage is tantamount to illegal gratification under the Prevention of Corruption Act. The Pinarayi Vijayan government accepted the commission’s findings and formed a special team to probe the accusations.

The LDF government dropped a bombshell in the run-up to the 2021 Assembly elections by promulgating an extraordinary notification in January to hand over the case to the CBI. The alleged victim in the case had also moved the government for a CBI inquiry.

The notification came days after the AICC had nominated Mr. Chandy to spearhead the UDF’s Assembly election campaign.

Cong. flays move

The Congress greeted the news with outrage. Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan said that the CPI(M) and the BJP had attempted to resurrect a set of lies to tarnish the Congress. He alleged that Mr. Vijayan’s meeting with the BJP leaders at the Centre was a precursor of the plot.

Congress working president Kodikunnil Suresh said Mr. Vijayan had breathed life into the old and discredited accusations to divert public attention from the foreign currency probe against him.

Multiple officers had found no merit in the accusations. The High Court had expunged the commission’s findings against Mr. Chandy, he said.

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