Big names in the state like Aryadan Mohammed, Thampanoor Ravi, Benny Behanan and Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan have also been implicated in the report.

Paid Rs 21 cr to Oommen Chandy says Saritha Solar Commission recommends probe
news Solar Case Thursday, November 09, 2017 - 17:23

Kerala woke up to a rather grim Thursday morning with the Solar Commission’s report making some startling revelations.

One of its kind in the history of Kerala politics, the Solar Commission report, that runs into 1,073 pages and four volumes, has detailed documentary evidence attached to the allegations raised by Saritha S Nair against many UDF leaders, including former CM Oommen Chandy, of having accepted huge sums as bribe from her company Team Solar.

The five-page recommendations on pages 845-849 of Volume III in the report reads, “The Commission has already found that the Chief Minister Sri. Oommen Chandy and through him his personal staff Tenny Joppan, Jikkumon Jacob, gunman Salimraj and his aid at Delhi, all had assisted Team Solar accused Saritha S Nair and her company in enabling them to cheat their customers.

According to the allegations made by Team Solar accused Saritha, she paid crores of rupees to Chandy through his Delhi aide Thomas Kuruvi. The Solar Commission report reads, “She said she has paid a total sum of Rupees Two Crores Ten Lakhs to Sri Oommen Chandy through his Delhi aid, Sri. Thomas Kuruvi.”

The commission also says that Saritha had bribed Chandy from the money that she had taken from Mallelil Sreedharan Nair, an industrialist. The report reads, “Rupees Thirty Two lakhs out of Rupees Forty Lakhs received from Sri. Sreedharan Nair was utilised for payment to CM.”

The commission also reports, “She said that the amounts paid are amounts collected from their customers for establishing Solar Mega Projects, with the expectation that if the solar policy of Kerala is ordered huge profits can be obtained by establishing mega projects with various incentives available under the policy.”

The Solar Commission, going by the allegations made by Saritha, has found enough grounds for a probe and has asked for a criminal investigation in accordance with the Prevention of Corruption Act.

According to the report, Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, a UDF leader, had helped Chandy dodge criminal proceedings in the case. A segment of the five-page recommendations in the report reads, “The Commission has also found that the then Home and Vigilance Minister Sri Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan made all efforts from his part to ensure that the Chief Minister Sri Oommen Chandy is extricated from criminal liability through police officers under him. Other allegations made against Sri. Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan is not supported by any evidence.”

The report also stated that the sexual favours demanded by the UDF leaders should be understood and conceived as bribery, adding that the sexual allegations raised by Saritha is not baseless.

Former UDF Minister Aryadan Mohammed had extensively helped the solar company, according to the commission. “The next part is the role of Sri Aryadan Mohammed. It is found as in the case of CM Sri Oommen Chandy, he had assisted Team Solar Company in whatever manner possible.”

The report said that those who inaugurated the companies owned by Team Solar are also guilty of bribery. The commission also reported that the former legislators Thampanoor Ravi and Benny Behanan also tried to help Chandy wriggle out of the solar scam.

“The Commission has also found that all the Ministers who inaugurated the functions of Team Solar Company, the MLAs who recommended Saritha Nair's Team Solar Company for installing solar street lights in their constituencies and also in settling their criminal cases and Ex MLA Sri Thampanoor Ravi, Sri Benny Behanan MLA, etc. had worked for saving the C.M Sri. Oommen Chandy.”

The report also revealed that according to the findings of DGP Senkumar, Saritha had communicated with Tenny Joppan, Jikkumon Jacob and Salimraj using mobile phones. Saritha was also in touch with the official residence of the CM.

“It is based on the call details so obtained we found that from the mobile phones used by Saritha S. Nair lot of calls were made to the mobile phones of Tenny Joppan, Jikkumon Jacob, gunman Salimraj and back. It was also found that lot of calls were made from mobile phones used by Saritha to the land phones in the official residence of the CM.”

The report also made it clear the reasons that the commission disbelieved Chandy:

“The following circumstances, according to the commission, would reveal that the former Chief Minister Sri Oommen Chandy very well knew about Team Solar Company of Saritha S. Nair and Biju Radhakrishnan at least from late 2011.

1) Saritha S. Nair contacts Sri Tenny Joppan, clerk of CM Sri. Oommen Chandy as the GM of Team Solar Company for an appointment to meet the CM for giving donations to the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund and Sri Tenny Joppan, after talking to the CM asks her to come the next day morning.

2) The Private Secretary of the CM Sri P S Sreekumaran gives an acknowledgement letter dated 08-08-2011 to the CEO, Team Solar Company and the staff of Team Solar along with the CM, his P.S. and an Addl. P.S. poses for a photograph. Saritha S. Nair, it is said, declined to be present in the photo. The statement of Sri P S Sreekumaran in his deposition before the CM. The CM also admits now.

3) Another cheque for Rs 2 lakh to the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund dated 10.07.2012. CM in his letter had acknowledged the receipt with his signature and date 09-07-2012. It is issued to Team Solar Company.

4) Sri. Biju Radhakrishnan, CEO of Team Solar Company, meets the CM in the Government Guest house, Ernakulam in September 2012.”

Meanwhile, “Sri. Oommen Chandy had denied any acquaintance with Saritha S Nair/Lakshmi Nair. He slightly changed the stand in his deposition dated 25-01-2016.The CM admitted that in between 2011 and 2013 he had seen Saritha S Nair on two occasions; he says, one for giving a cheque for Rs 1 lakh to the Distress Relief Fund of the CM in late 2011 and the other, for giving a representation in connection with her business. He said even this meeting he remembered only when Sri. Biju Radhakrishnan met him in the Government Guest house, Ernakulam and reminded him of those two occasions.”

The Commission added, “The Commission recommends that the state government shall seriously consider the applicability of the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act against all those persons against whom corruption and illegal gratifications are alleged based on evidence produced before the Commission.”

The solar scam relates to the swindling of lakhs of rupees from several people by Saritha S Nair and her live-in partner Biju Radhakrishnan, another accused in the case, after promising to set up solar panels. The two were business partners in Team Solar Renewable Energy Solutions Private Limited, a Kochi-based firm.

The former CM Oommen Chandy and some of his cabinet colleagues were accused of taking large amounts of money and demanding sexual favours from Saritha as part of the deal.

Arrested in October 2013, the Judicial Magistrate Court in Perumbavoor in December 2016 sentenced Saritha and Biju to three years in prison and a fine of Rs 10,000 each.

However, Oommen Chandy alleged that the government showed undue haste in taking action against certain Congress leaders based on the solar scam report.

“He even announced at a press meet that if the allegations against him were proved, he would quit public life.” 

He said there was no transparency in the whole process after the government received the report and this is what the opposition is questioning. “People have a right to know what the findings of the Commission are. But neither the Commission nor the government has been silent on it,” Oommen Chandy said at the press meet.

“In the solar report, Saritha S Nair’s letter is produced in two volumes. Is it a Saritha report or solar report? What is the credibility of the letter, where are the corruption allegations? It should be doubted that the government is showing political vengeance and creating an atmosphere of retaliatory politics with these allegations,” he said.

“The government had earlier said that a case will be registered against Congress leaders as per the cabinet decision. Now the government says that investigation will be held and a case will be registered based on that,” he said.

While the Commission is required to sign all pages of the report, an entire portion of it is left unsigned, Chandy claimed.

But the CM didn’t answer questions regarding this, he said. 

(With inputs from Saritha S Balan)

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