On Monday, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan alleged that the central investigation agencies probing the gold smuggling case were exceeding their jurisdiction to 'malign and destablise the constitutionally elected' state government. The government would make necessary interventions plausible within the law, he said.
This is the first time that CM Pinarayi is hitting out at the agencies, even as his party Communist Party of India (Marxist) – CPI(M) -- and its allies have many a time criticised them "for acting in a prejudiced manner."
He added that neither he nor his government were against any "proper investigation" in any matter.
In a strongly worded statement read out at a press meet here, the Chief Minister said the agencies were encroaching the executive authority of the state government and the constitutional bodies.
The Chief Minister said, “These central agencies have exceeded their brief and their actions are a clear violation of the federal norms mandated by the constitution of our country. Without the intention of blaming any agency or official, I would like to clarify that the professional standards generally accepted by investigative agencies are being subverted and the investigations are being diverted to suit certain vested interests.”
The state government had expected the investigation to go through ‘proper legal channels’ when they asked the union government for a comprehensive inquiry into the crime. “The investigation is something that should be done confidentially by an agency but it looks like they are following a predetermined path scripted by few people outside the agency and this is a serious situation where such actions would undermine their credibility.”
The investigations should not be prejudiced, he said. “There are multiple central agencies conducting various investigations here - Customs in the gold smuggling case, the Enforcement Directorate in the Red Crescent incident, the CBI and the NIA in some other cases. But there are limits to what each agency can do and agencies should not go beyond their jurisdiction. Such interventions demoralise the officials who are working tirelessly for the success of projects like the Life Mission.”
In an apparent reference to the press meet of BJP Union Minister V Muraleedharan at New Delhi in connection with the gold smuggling case, CM Pinarayi said that “people outside the agency are announcing the next step of the investigation through the media and the agencies act as per the announcement.
"There is also a situation where parts of the statements given to the agencies are selectively leaked to the media," he said.
The Chief Minister said the agencies scrutinising the policies and decisions of a constitutionally elected state government would only destroy the federal structure, which would lead to the breakdown of governance.
Investigative agencies should not indulge in activities that demoralise bureaucrats and undermine the political leadership, he said.
"How does a statement, given under oath, appear in the media? What is the reason for leaking parts of the statements to the media in line with certain agendas? An investigation appearing to be moving in a scripted manner is a setback to the democratic system," the CM said.
He said the K-Fone project, to provide quality internet to all people of the state at a low cost, would be implemented at any cost and the government would not surrender its authority and the right to take policy decisions.
"Attempts are being made to derail the project, which would be done by laying 52,000 km-long optical fibre cable across Kerala. I would like to make it clear that no matter what, it will be implemented in the state."
The rival parties -- Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) -- reacting to CM Pinarayi’s criticism, said the "true colours" of the chief minister and his party have now been exposed.
Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly and senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala said the CM was attacking the central agencies as he feared that the probe would reach his office.
"The Chief Minister himself had given good certificates to the agencies. But now the true colours of the CM and his party have come out as they have been cornered by the probe agencies," Chennithala said.
BJP state president K Surendran echoed similar views, saying that as the probe agencies were moving in the right direction, "the true colours of the Chief Minister were out".
The Enforcement Directorate had recently sought details of around four developmental projects of the state government, including the K-Fone project, in connection with matters related to the gold smuggling case.
Multiple central probe agencies are conducting various investigations in Kerala with regard to the gold smuggling through diplomatic baggage.
Besides the Enforcement Directorate, the CBI, NIA and Customs are probing various aspects related to the case.
(With PTI input)
Watch: CM's press meet on Monday