In a major set back to Kerala's Transport Minister Thomas Chandy, the High Court dismissed his plea seeking to quash a report by Alappuzha District Collector TV Anupama accusing him of land grab.
Dismissing the plea on Tuesday, the HC slammed the Left Democratic Front (LDF) minister for filing a plea against his own government. The court said that it was better that the minister step down from the government, considering that the first respondent in his petition was the state government.
“In a cabinet that has collective responsibility, without taking the Chief Minister into confidence approaching court against a District Collector's report is a classic case of disqualification… Are you saying that the court should protect you?” reports quoted the HC as saying.
The court observed that the minister's action was unconstitutional and pointed out that the government has lost confidence in the minister. Although the HC gave Congress MP Vivek Thanka, who is Chandy's counsel, time to withdraw the petition, the minister did not do so, following which, the court dismissed the petition.
Thomas Chandy, who is the richest legislator in the state, belongs to the National Congress Party (NCP), an ally of the LDF.
Reacting to the HC dismissing the minister's petition, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who has largely been silent on the allegation against one of his ministers, told reporters that "appropriate decision will be taken at the appropriate time."
"LDF has already discussed the matter pertaining to Thomas Chandy and it arrived at the conclusion that a decision will be arrived at after looking at all the sides. As a CM, I have directed the LDF to take an appropriate decision. After studying today's HC order, we will take an appropriate decision," Pinarayi Vijayan said.
Pinarayi Vijayan added that since Thomas Chandy was part of NCP, the party must look into the matter and take a stand.
However, the CM refused to clarify whether Thomas Chandy will be shown the door, in the wake of the HC slamming him.
The controversy over Thomas Chandy's land grab surfaced after Alappuzha district collector TV Anupama submitted a report to Revenue Principal Secretary PH Kurian in August.
The report stated that portions of Marthandam Lake had been leveled for building the Minister’s Lake Palace Resort. The report has also said that a paddy field was levelled to build a parking lot for the resort.
Ever since the controversy broke, NCP has been backing its only minister in the Pinarayi cabinet. The state government had also delayed taking a stand in the matter, asking Thomas Chandy to decide whether he will step down or not.