Kochi: Making matters worse for transport minister Thomas Chandy, the Kerala High Court Wednesday flayed the sate government for failing to act on the encroachment allegations raised against the minister.
"What is the government's stance on encroachments? If a common man encroached upon land, will the State adopt the same measures?" the Kerala HC asked.
It was alleged that Chandy had violated rules to construct a road through paddy fields to a lake resort owned by him in Alappuzha district.
"If an ordinary person encroached upon land, then would you not raze down the building with a bulldozer? Is minister Thomas Chandy getting special treatment?," the HC asked, stating that there should not be any difference between the common man and person in power.
The court made the observations while considering a public interest litigation (PIL) by Thrissur native, TN Mukundan.
The PIL filed sought a court directive to register an FIR for alleged violation of provisions of Kerala Land Conservancy Act and Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act by Water World Tourism company, which owns the Lake Palace Resort in Alappuzha. Chandy has been facing allegations for allegedly filling paddy fields for the construction of a parking space and encroaching Marthandam backwaters.
When the court asked if the government had begun a probe into the allegations, the government's counsel said an investigation was on and the collector had only submitted a partial report and was yet to submit the full report.
The government also pleaded that no special consideration was given to Chandy.
The report by Alappuzha district collector TV Anupama confirmed that she had instructed the tahsildars concerned to investigate the alleged land deals involving the minister.
Ever since the issue surfaced, Thomas Chandy has been claiming that he has not encroached upon any land and he was in no way associated with the encroached land.
Chandy, a nominee of the NCP in the CPM-led LDF government, has been under attack from the Congress-led UDF opposition and the BJP ever since the allegations surfaced some time ago.
Stepping up its demand for Chandy's resignation, opposition alleged there was 'mystery' behind chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan protecting the transport minister even after the revenue minister had accepted the district collector's report that 'found serious violation of rules'. The chief minister is yet to respond over the issue.
A businessman-turned-politician, Chandy joined the ministry in April following the resignation of AK Saseendran over allegations of sexual misconduct.