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VS flays move to make Jiji Thomson chief secretary

CPI(M) stalwart and Kerala opposition leader V S Achuthanandan on Thursday resented the Oommen Chandy Government’s move to make Jiji Thomson, an accused in the palmolein case, as Chief Secretary of Kerala.

In a statement here, Achuthanandan said the assertion of Chandy the Kerala High Court order rejecting the Government’s move to wind up the two-decade-old case was no bar to elevate Thomson as Chief Secretary, amounted to challenging the rule of law. “This stance of Chandy amounts to posing a challenge to the judiciary and rule of law. The move to make Thomson as Chief Secretary is morally and legally incorrect,” he said.

Chandy had on Wednesday said the government would go ahead with the plan to post Thomson as Chief Secretary on retirement of the incumbent, Bharat Bhushan, shortly. The chief minister also recalled that it was Achuthanandan, as head of the previous LDF government, who appointed former CVC P J Thomas ignoring the fact that he also figures as an accused in the same case.

In what has been dubbed as a setback to the government, the court had last week turned down its plea to withdraw the case.

Thomson had earlier this month returned to his home cadre after several years of central deputation when his assignments included director of Sports Authority of India.

The court on January 8 had declined to accept the government’s plea to withdraw prosecution in the 23-year-old palmolein import scam case in which names of some politicians and bureaucrats have cropped up, holding that such a move would only help the accused ‘personally or otherwise’.

The case relates to import of palmolein during 1991-92 at ‘inflated’ price by the then Congress Government headed by late K Karunakaran from a Malaysian firm allegedly causing a loss of Rs 2.33 crore to the state exchequer. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy was the finance minister then.

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