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Kerala minister resigns after HC's remarks
February 09, 2005 13:10 IST
Kerala Forest Minister K P Vishwanathan resigned on Wednesday, a day after the Kerala high court made some adverse remarks against him in a sandalwood theft case.
The minister announced his resignation in the assembly after the opposition raised the issue. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said he was accepting the resignation.
Vishwanathan said though he had not done anything wrong, he was quitting as a 'smokescreen' of doubts had been created in the wake of the HC's remarks. He said he wanted to prove that he was innocent.
Justice K Padmanabhan Nair had remarked that the 'sandalwood mafia had direct access to the state Forest Minister Vishwanathan' while hearing an anticipatory bail application of the four accused in the Walayar sandalwood theft case. The petition was dismissed.
Raising the issue during the zero hour in the assembly through an adjournment notice, Communist Party of India (Marxist)'s Mathai Chacko sought the minister's resignation. He said Vishwanathan's continuance in the cabinet amounted to breach of the oath of office and violation of all precedents.
Countering the opposition's demand, the CM said the court had made the remarks without hearing the minister or the government. The government would approach the Supreme Court against the remarks, he said.
After the CM's reply, Vishwanathan, a Congress nominee in the United Democratic Front cabinet, stoutly defended his position and claimed he was the only forest minister in the last 10 years to order raids on sandalwood units.
More reports from Kerala