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Solar panel scam: Kerala CM testifies before Judicial Commission

Solar panel scam: Kerala CM testifies before Judicial Commission
Highlights

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy for the first time appeared before a judicial commission probing the solar panel scam that has rocked the state since 2013 and testified for several hours.

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy for the first time appeared before a judicial commission probing the solar panel scam that has rocked the state since 2013 and testified for several hours.

The testifying that started on Monday morning continued in the night also with a one-hour break for lunch in the afternoon and a short 10 minutes break in the night.

Chandy, during the deposition, maintained that the charges against him and his office were 'politically motivated' and denied any wrong-doing.

Today's development assumes significance as this is the first time a chief minister in Kerala is appearing before a judicial commission.

The commission was on its final stage of evidence taking on the scam that caused a huge embarrassment to the Congress-led UDF government.

The Kochi-based commission held the sitting here at the Government Guest house to enable Chandy to depose as per an earlier request of the chief minister.

Justice Sivarajan, heading the Commission, heard and recorded Chief Minister's version for nearly two hours in the morning sitting.

After a short break, the Commission met again where lawyers who are party to the case cross-examined Chandy.

Rejecting charges that he and his office had helped the 'Team Solar Company, that committed the fraud, Chandy said after the scam broke out, the state government had initiated stern steps to bring the 'fraudsters'--Biju Radhakrishnan and Saritha S Nair--before law.

"This government ensured punishment to the fraudsters who were committing crime since 2005. The conviction and sentence of the accused in the case clearly showed the commitment of this government towards the scam," he added.

"The Opposition parties have so far not been able to bring before the Commission a single evidence to support their charges that 'myself and my office' helped the Team Solar Company," Chandy said.

On removing two staff members after the scam broke out, he said "Action was taken even though I had a long years of association with them because lapses had occurred on their part. But, unfortunately, Opposition parties magnified those aspects and used them as a political weapon to attack me."

Chandy also said he came to know about the Team Solar Company and fraud committed by it only when the scam broke out.

Pointing out that his government had not incurred any loss due to the scam, Chandy said he had not met Saritha, one of the two accused in the scam, along with Sreedharan Nair, who made the first complaint in the case.

He said he had met Radhakrishnan only once in 2012, "but he came as one R B Nair. He submitted certain family matters before me".

The Opposition CPI (M)-led LDF had launched a massive agitation demanding Chandy's resignation as the scam took a political turn after it emerged that at least two of the members of the Chief Minister's staff -- Tenny Joppen and Jikkumon -- had alleged links with Saritha.

Government had appointed retired high court judge Sivarajan as the one-man commission on October 23, 2013 to probe the scam.

The scam pertains to cheating of several persons of worth crores of rupees by Saritha and Radhakrishnan by offering solar panel solutions.

The two allegedly canvassed business by using high-level names including that of Chandy.

While Saritha was granted bail after remaining behind bars for some nine months, Radhakrishnan is still in jail in connection with the murder of his wife.

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