Kochi, Feb. 19 (PTI): Clearing the way for the prosecution of K. Karunakaran in the palmolein import case, Kerala High Court today held that the Lok Sabha Speaker’s sanction was not necessary to prosecute the former Kerala chief minister.
Justice N. Krishnan Nair issued the order while allowing a revision petition filed by the previous Democratic Front government.
The petition had challenged the order of the Vigilance Special Court in Thiruvananthapuram, directing the vigilance department to obtain the Lok Sabha Speaker’s sanction to prosecute Karunakaran as he is now a member of the Lower House.
Karunakaran was the chief minister when the offences were alleged to have been committed and by the time the chargesheet was filed, he had demitted office, the high court held.
There were no allegations that Karunakaran had either “misused” or “abused” his office of MP for corrupt motives. Hence, the high court held that the Lok Sabha Speaker’s permission was not necessary to prosecute him despite the fact that he was an MP.
The case relates to the import of 15,000 tonnes of palmolein in 1991 from the Singapore- based Power and Energy Pri-vate Ltd through their Indian agents, Mala Trading Corporation, for distribution through the state public distribution system.
It was alleged that the import was made disregarding state trading corporation norms by paying a price higher than the prevailing international market price of palmolein, resulting in a loss of Rs 2.80 crore to the state exchequer.
Then civil supplies minister, T.H. Mustaffa, former chief secretary S. Padmakumar, then additional chief secretary Zacharia Mathew, and Gigi Thomson, then managing director of the Kerala State Civil Supplies corporation, are the other accused in the case.