Kerala High Court on Friday sought responses from chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, his daughter and several Opposition politicians to a petition that seeks a probe into alleged payoffs they had received from a private company.
Among the accused politicians are senior Congress leader and former leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, Indian Union Muslim League national general secretary P.K. Kunhalikutty and his party colleague V.K. Ibrahim Kunju.
Justice K. Babu has ordered that notices be issued to 12 respondents on a revision petition filed by social activist Gireesh Babu (now deceased) relating to payoff allegations against the Kochi-based Cochin Minerals and Rutile Limited (CMRL).
Babu had sought a review of an August 26 order by the special judge (vigilance) in Muvattupuzha who had dismissed his plea for a vigilance probe. The special judge had said there was no prima facie case against the accused individuals, who had figured in the report of a tax probe against the company.
The high court had appointed an amicus curiae after Gireesh Babu had died in September. After receiving a report from the amicus curiae, the high court has taken suo motu cognisance of the case.
The purported initials of several politicians and the name of Vijayan’s daughter Veena figure in a report by the Interim Board of Settlement of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) in a case related to unaccounted money allegedly amassed by CMRL.
According to the CBDT report, CMRL had made payments amounting to Rs 1.72 crore to Veena’s Bangalore-based tech-services firm, Exalogic Solutions Private Ltd, between 2017-18 and 2019-20.
Since CMRL has its own in-house tech services wing, the alleged payments to Exalogic led to the accusation that they had been made to receive favours from the chief minister.
According to the CBDT report, company documents identified some of the recipients of the alleged payoffs by their initials — PV, OC, RC, KK and IK. The CBDT report expanded the initials as Pinarayi Vijayan, (the late) Oommen Chandy, Ramesh Chennithala (both Congress), Kunhalikutty and Ibrahim Kunju (both IUML).
Vijayan has said the "PV" in the report is not him, and the CPM has denied receiving the money.
"First, let me get the high court notice. Why are you (the media) worried?" Vijayan said on Friday.