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SC nod for trial in palmolein oil import case

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed a Kerala court to go ahead with the trial in the multi-crore palmolein oil import case involving Chief Vigilance Commissioner P.J. Thomas and the then Chief Minister K. Karunakaran.

A bench of justices Aftab Alam and R.M. Lodha gave the green signal after treating Karunakaran’s appeal as “abated” in view of his death on December 23 last year.

The Kerala government had earlier moved the apex court seeking vacation of its stay on the trial in the palmolein oil import case in which Mr. Thomas is an accused.

The Supreme Court had on August 3, 2007, stayed proceedings in the case before a designated CBI court in Kerala. There were eight accused in the Palmolein import case.

The chargesheet in the case was filed in 2000 against Karunakaran and seven senior state government officials, including Mr. Thomas, who was then Kerala Food Secretary.

The then Chief Secretary of the state, besides Additional secretary and Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation’s Managing Director G G Thomas are also named as an accused in the FIR.

The case pertains to the import of palm oil from a Singapore firm, which was allegedly done at prices higher than the international rate.

The Karunakaran cabinet had approved the import of 15,000 tonnes of palm oil at a rate of $ 405 per tonne whereas the market price was $ 392.25 per tonne.

As Secretary, Food and Civil Supplies, Thomas had issued the government order for the import which caused a loss of Rs. 2.32 crore to the state exchequer.

In November 2005, the state government had decided to move the trial court to withdraw the prosecution against Karunakaran.

In 2006, it, however, cancelled its decision for withdrawing his prosecution stating that there was no such intention and favoured going ahead with criminal proceedings against all the eight accused including Mr. Thomas.

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