Maradu flats case: Builder, 2 former panchayat officials remanded for three days

Maradu flats case: Builder, 2 former panchayat officials remanded for three days
Insert L to R: Sani Francis, Muhammed Ashraf and P E Joseph

Kochi: The Muvattupuzha Vigilance court has remanded a builder and two former panchayat officials, who were arrested over the irregularities in the construction of the four to-be-razed apartments at Maradu in Ernakulam, for three days. The Supreme Court has ordered for the demolition of these flats that were built by violating the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) norms.

The Crime Branch had on Tuesday arrested Sani Francis, owner of the Holy Faith Builder and Developers, former Maradu panchayat secretary Muhammed Ashraf and former Maradu panchayat junior superintendent P E Joseph as per the Prevention of Corruption Act.

They have also been slapped with conspiracy and cheating charges.

After studying the remand report submitted by the probe team, the court rejected their bail plea. The probe officers, in the remand report, pointed out that the panchayat officials had hatched a conspiracy for the flat builder and the documents on giving permission for the flat construction were either destroyed or sneaked out of the office.

The officers also asserted that the if accused were let off before the probe could be completed, it would adversely affect the case. The court would consider the case again on October 19.

The investigation team deduce that there could be other officials who could have made financial gains through fraudulent means. Therefore, the officers hinted that more arrests could be made in the coming days. Crime Branch ADGP Tomin J Thachankary had clearly stated on Tuesday that if any role of politicians were proved in the case, they would be named as accused.

As the arrested people have been slapped with the IPC sections for conspiracy and cheating, the probe team is checking if the flats should be considered as mainour. The flats would become mainour if it is proved that the builders had suppressed facts about various approvals. However, then that could also pose as an obstacle in the demolition process.

Meanwhile, the Ernakulam principal sessions court has postponed the hearing in the bail plea of J Paul Raj, director of Alpha Ventures Pvt Ltd – one of the builders, on Thursday.

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