Kerala Information Commissioner accused of making calls to affect an investigation
The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) government had ordered a vigilance inquiry against the Kerala Opposition leader V.S. Achuthanandan, former Revenue Minister K.P. Rajendran, former Principal Secretary Sheela Thomas and others in a case involving free allotment of 3 acres of government land. The land was allotted by Achuthanandan while he was Chief Minister to an ex-serviceman who is related to him.
A local television channel has recently telecast what it claims to be the recording of a telephone call made by K. Natarajan, the information Commissioner at the SIC, on his mobile phone to V.G. Kunjan, a Deputy Superintendent of Police at Department of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) who is investigating the case. It was requested in the mobile call not to include Achuthanandan as an accused in the First Information Report in the case as it would be unfair to a man of high principles. The call was recorded by V.G. Kunjan who submitted the audio clip to his seniors alleging that he was getting repeated calls from the Keral State Information Commission (SIC).
The Kerala RTI Federation has requested the Governor to initiate proceedings to remove Natarajan as SIC while the police have initiated an enquiry.
Achuthanandan has said that he has not asked anyone to make any request on his behalf. If the Information Commissioner has made such a call without his knowledge, he should face the consequences. A former IPS officer, Natarajan was selected as Information Commissioner in April, 2011 by a committee comprising the then Chief Minister Achuthanandan, the Opposition leader and a cabinet minister. It has been alleged that Natarajan was an activist of the CPI(M)'s student wing during his college days. He was said to be close to Achuthanandan and was a regular visitor at his residence of the Chief Minister. RTI activists have charged that political parties taken to appointing their loyalists to the SIC's office. Soni B. Thengamam, C.S. Sasikumar (alias Vithura Sasi) and Kurias Kumbalakkuzhi have been claimed to be prominent activists of one party or other.