Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Friday quashed an FIR registered last year by the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) against former chief minister Oommen Chandy, former chief secretary E K Bharat Bhushan and three others in an alleged land scam, noting that it was based on "assumed facts and false statements".
The court gave the verdict on petitions filed by Bhushan and two others, seeking to quash the FIR registered in February last year by then Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) head Jacob Thomas.
The FIR deals with alleged irregularities in construction of a building and shifting a sewage pipeline of Kerala Water Authority (KWA) in Pattoor in Thiruvananthapuram when Chandy was the chief minister in the previous Congress-led UDF government.
The charge was that Bhushan and Chandy committed criminal misconduct by abusing their official positions to cause undue advantage to the builders.
They allegedly permitted the realtor to shift the KWA sewerage pipeline that passed through the middle of his property to ensure that it does not pose a hindrance to the realtor's development plans.
The high court on Friday came down heavily against the VACB and Thomas for registering a case on a non-existent land grab.
"Preconceptions and misconceptions, predictions and predeterminations of a police officer shall not be the basis for registration of a case, especially, for an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act," the Court said.
On hearing about the verdict, a confident Oommen Chandy told reporters in Thalassery that this would be the fate of other cases against him too.
The issue was taken up by media in 2015. Later, the then Left opposition led by V SAchuthanandan went hammer and tongs against Chandy for giving government land to a private builder and made it a major issue in the 2016 assembly election campaign.
After the Pinarayi Vijayan-led Left government assumed office in May 2016, Thomas, appointed VACB chief on the day Pinarayi assumed office, led the investigation and in February last year registered a case against Chandy and others for misuse of authority to favor a private builder.
Talking to reporters after hearing the verdict for quashing of the FIR, Bharath Bhushan said that he is extremely delighted and happy.
"No one knows the pains I had to undergo as it was at the fag end of an impeccable professional career of 36 years, this case first surfaced and then after retirement, I was arraigned as an accused as I became a victim of political battle," he said.
It remains to be seen if the state government will go in appeal against this verdict.
State law minister A KBalan said that he too has heard about the court ruling and will now have to study it in detail before deciding on the future course of action.
The BJP alleged that the government helped the accused esacape the law.