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Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy's refrain that "law will take its own course" appears not to apply when senior bureaucrats are in the dock.
Last week, the state high court issued a notice to the government after former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan questioned Chandy's decision to drop disciplinary action against senior IPS officer Siby Mathew and his two assistants. The action had been recommended by the CBI, after it probed the spy case in which Narayanan was named and found the charges to be phony.
Chandy had exonerated Mathew in 2011, saying it was not proper to take action against officials after a lapse of 15 years.
Mathew isn't the only powerful bureaucrat to have enjoyed the state government's reprieve. In 2011, it also withdrew sanction to prosecute former chief secretary John Mathai, the brother of a late Catholic bishop, in a corruption case. After the chargesheet was filed, the government felt Mathew and the other two accused were innocent and hence there was no nod for their prosecution.
Recently the government wanted to withdraw a major corruption case against Public Works Department Chief Engineer Joseph Mathew and two others, despite objections from the Vigilance. During his previous stint as CM in 2004-06 too, Chandy had tried in vain to abandon the same case. Last month, when the Vigilance court objected to the government bid to withdraw prosecution sanction, Chandy said the decision stemmed from his conscience.
Another beneficiary of this apparent pang of conscience has been Additional Director General of Police Mahesh Kumar Singla, who had faced serious allegations regarding his failure to look into conspiracy and funding in a communal carnage.
In 2006, a judicial commission had asked the government to probe into Singla's role as the investigation chief in the carnage case. Chandy exonerated Singla in 2011, noting down in the file that "it was an old case".