The Principal Sub-Court -I in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday asked former Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan to pay Rs 10.10 lakh to his successor Oommen Chandy as defamation charges.
Chandy had filed a defamation case against Achuthanandan in 2014 for alleging, in a 2013 television interview, that Chandy was involved in the Solar scam. Achuthanandan was also asked to pay an interest of 6% for the amount, with retrospective effect from 2014. The order was issued by principal sub-judge Shibu Daniel.
Achuthanandan, who was then opposition leader, had said that a company was set up under Chandy's behest to swindle money in the name of solar power. It was also alleged that Chandy had accepted a bribe from the solar scam accused Saritha S Nair.
Chandy had testified before the Court on September 24, 2019. He had said that Achuthanandan's wild allegations were not backed by evidence and was instrumental in creating a wrong public impression about him.
Chandy also argued that if there was even a shred of evidence, the LDF government would have proceeded against him after it came to power. However, more than a year later, on January 25, 2021 and with the Assembly election near, the Pinarayi Vijayan government had given its nod for handing over the Solar case to the CBI.
In 2019, Achuthanandan could not appear before the Court hearing the defamation case because of ill health. But three of the witnesses he had lined up were cross-examined on October 11, 2019.
The then special secretary (Home) was one of the witnesses. He produced six documents, including the copy of four volumes of the report filed by Justice Sivarajan Commission that conducted a judicial inquiry into the solar scam. Copies of requests submitted by Achuthanandan seeking the copy of the commission report, and also before the legislative assembly on the government’s action taken report on the case were also produced before the Court. A copy of the government order constituting a special probe team for the case was also held up as crucial evidence.
During the cross examination, the special secretary had to admit in the court that there was nothing in any of the documents that supported Achuthanandan's claims against Chandy.
The solar scam accused, Saritha, had hurled serious allegations against Chandy. She had said that a bribe of Rs 1.80 crore was handed over to a member of the Chief Minister's office in 2012. This she said was a portion of the Rs seven crore bribe that Chandy's personal assistant, Jikkumon Jacob, had demanded of her.
Chandy had then rubbished these arguments. He said that even the Rs two lakh she contributed to the CM's Distress Relief Fund had bounced. "How can such a person claim to have paid crores," Chandy had said.