Palarivattom flyover scam: Court rejects Ebrahim Kunju's bail plea, allows VACB to grill him for 5hrs

Palarivattom flyover scam: Court rejects Ebrahim Kunju's bail plea, allows Vigilance to question him for 5 hours
V K Ebrahim Kunju

Muvattupuzha: The Vigilance Court here on Thursday rejected the bail plea of former PWD Minister V K Ebrahim Kunju, who was arrested by Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau (VACB) in connection with the Palarivattom flyover corruption case.

The court maintained its stand on the custody request by the Vigilance. However, it allowed Vigilance to question Ebrahim Kunju for five hours at a private hospital, where he is currently undergoing treatment for multiple myeloma.

The investigators can question him from 9 to 12 in the morning and 3 to 5 in the evening at the hospital. After every hour of questioning, the Court said the accused should be given a break of 15 minutes.

The probe team should conduct COVID test and make sure the accused has no infection. Ebrahim Kunju is allowed to seek medical assistance during the questioning, if necessary, the court said.

Earlier, the VACB had informed the court that the probe could not go any further without questioning the ex-minister in custody. The Vigilance also told the court that the probe team was prepared to question Kunju in the hospital.

On Wednesday, the court had clarified that in view of the serious allegations against the former minister, it would consider allowing vigilance to question him in hospital along with medical assistance.

The court also pointed out the District Medical Officer's report which stated that Kunju should continue the treatment in the private hospital as the government hospital lacked the requisite facilities. In response to the DMO's report, the vigilance prosecutor had argued that the investigation team was prepared to question Kunju in the hospital for four days.

When vigilance judge Jobin Sebastian asked if it was possible to question the former minister in the presence of doctors, the vigilance replied that the questioning could be carried out by ensuring medical care. However, no doctors or medical staff can be present during the questioning.

The court made it clear that Ibrahim Kunju's condition was serious and he cannot be sent to police custody.

The main argument placed by Kunju's advocate is that he had only signed the file recommending the release of the mobilization fund. The file had passed through several officers before reaching he minister. However, the prosecution countered saying that the minister had intervened strongly in tender proceedings and in deciding the agency to be awarded the contract for the flyover construction.

Kunju was arrested by VACB last week from a leading private hospital in the Palarivattom flyover case.

A Medical Board constituted to find out his illness had found that he was undergoing treatment for multiple myeloma and undergoing chemotherapy sessions, with the next cycle set to commence next week.

Kunju was earlier questioned a few times by the VACB over a graft case in connection with the flyover project. He is the fifth accused named in the case and his sudden arrest was seen as payback by the Pinarayi Vijayan government.

Built at a cost of Rs 42 crore during Oommen Chandy's term as CM, the 750-metre flyover was supposed to last for over 100 years. It was opened in October 2016 but within three years started crumbling and had to be closed. Kunju was the Minister when the flyover was constructed.

The comments posted here/below/in the given space are not on behalf of Onmanorama. The person posting the comment will be in sole ownership of its responsibility. According to the central government's IT rules, obscene or offensive statement made against a person, religion, community or nation is a punishable offense, and legal action would be taken against people who indulge in such activities.