In fresh trouble for former Kerala Transport Minister Thomas Chandy, a Vigilance court on Thursday directed that a case be registered against him in relation to the Lake Palace land encroachment.
The Kottayam Vigilance Court directed the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) to register a case on the issue of usurping of government land near the former minister's plush resort in Alappuzha.
Earlier, the inquiry commissioner had ordered a preliminary inquiry on the basis of a petition that cited irregularities in the construction of Valiyakulam- Zero jetty road, which leads to Thomas Chandy's resort in Alappuzha.
VACB eastern range SP, Johnson Joseph, who conducted the preliminary inquiry, submitted the report to Vigilance Director Loknath Behera last week.
The court order came after the Vigilance Department submitted a quick verification report, which said that "there was merit in the allegation as pointed out by a petitioner". The petition was filed by MK Subhash, an advocate in Alappuzha.
Court has asked the VACB to complete the investigation within two weeks and submit its initial report by January 18. This has dashed Chandy's hope of returning to the cabinet any time soon. Chandy is a three-time legislator belonging to the Nationalist Congress Party.
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 levelled for building the Ministerâ€™s Lake Palace Resort. The report also said that a paddy field was levelled to build a parking lot for the resort.
After days of hanging on to power, Chandy finally quit as minister in November 2017 after the land encroachment case against him snowballed into a controversy.
He is the third minister from the Pinarayi Vijayan cabinet who has been forced to resign. CPI (M) heavyweight EP Jayarajan was forced to resign in October 2016 as the Industries and Sports Minister following allegations of nepotism. In March 2017, AK Saseendran, NCP member and Transport Minister was forced to quit after a tape with sexual conversation surfaced.
(With IANS inputs)