Information Commissioner suspended for ‘meddling’ with police investigation
K Natarajan is accused of influencing a vigilance investigation in a land allotment case against VS Achuthanadnan
Kerala Governor HR Bhardwaj has suspended State Information Commissioner K Natarajan, who is accused of influencing a vigilance investigation in a land allotment case against Opposition leader VS Achuthanandan.
Natarajan tried to hush up the police investigation against VS Achuthanandan who allotted 2.33 acres of land in Kasargod district to his relative allegedly violating norms when he was Chief Minister. The state government ordered a probe when the investigating officer Deputy Superintendent of Police VG Kunhan reported the government that Natarajan tried to influence him to submit a report to save Achuthanandan in the land case.
Additional Director General of Police (Vigilance) R Sreelekha, who conducted the enquiry, reported that the State Information Commissioner had misused his office and recommended Natarajan’s suspension. In her report, Sreelekha stated that Natrajan had repeatedly telephoned Kunhan requesting him to save Achuthanandan, and the telephonic conversation was recorded by Kunhan.
When the investigating officer reported the matter to the Vigilance Director, VS Achuthanandan told the media that he never asked Natarajan to put a word in his favour and distanced from Natarajan. Natrajan was close to many CPM leaders in the state. The Governor will now refer the matter to the Supreme Court seeking a statutory enquiry by a Supreme Court judge against the suspended Commissioner.
If misconduct is proved in the probe, the Governor can remove Natarajan from his office. Natarajan was a Deputy Inspector General of Police when the Achuthanandan government appointed him as State Information Commissioner. His appointment had attracted criticism on the grounds that he was not qualified to be appointed as Information Commissioner.
Oommen Chandy, the present Chief Minister, who was the Opposition leader then, objected his appointments on the grounds that there was a vigilance probe against Natarajan when he was Deputy SP in Tiruvalla. Earlier, the government ordered a vigilance probe against Natarajan when the large quantity of gold recovered in a theft case was not produced by him before the court as evidence.
Jeemon Jacob is Bureau Chief, South with Tehelka.