Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) Opposition members walked out of the Kerala legislative assembly on Thursday after the permission for adjournment motion was denied against forest minister and NCP leader AK Saseendran for allegedly intervening in a molestation case against his party member and trying to suppress it.
Demanding Saseendran’s resignation, MLA PC Vishnunath of Congress, who gave the notice for adjournment motion in the issue, in the assembly said, “The minister calling the complainant’s father was to ensure there won’t be legal action and to make sure justice will not be served. (The) minister has violated the oath of office.”
Vishnunath added that not filing an FIR even after three weeks of registering the complaint was a deliberate misuse of power.
The victim, who is the daughter of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) office bearer in Kollam district, had alleged that the party member, G Padmakaran, had touched her inappropriately and passed lewd remarks on her. Her complaint also stated that her fake Facebook profile was created and she was defamed through WhatsApp messages.
An audio clip purportedly released showed minister Saseendran telling the victim’s father to solve the issue “well”.
Responding to the allegation, Saseendran had earlier said he called the party functionary and the victim’s daughter as he heard about the complaint. “When the functionary told me it was a complaint related to his daughter I only told him to solve the issue well.”
While speaking in the assembly, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said, “On July 20, the case was registered under IPC Sections 354, 509, 34. Police chief will enquire into the complaint that there was a delay in registering cases.”
Vijayan pointed out that the issue was why was there a delay in filing the FIR. “I have directed the SPC to enquire about this. Why was there a delay? There shouldn’t have been a delay. Government is of the view that there shouldn’t be such delays in these cases.”
The CM said the minister has clarified the circumstances under which he had intervened in this issue. “He called up the complainant’s father who was a party member as if it was an internal party matter… Here the minister did not have any intention to weaken this case. There was no such intention from his side. He hasn’t called any police officer or any other person involved in this case. We cannot say the minister has committed an offence in any manner. I can assure the member that there needn’t be any doubt regarding the investigation. It will go ahead as per the merit of the case.”
Meanwhile, opposition leader VD Satheesan said the CM has given an unnecessary justification for the minister. “When the minister was speaking, the father asked, aren’t we talking about the issue of Padmakaran grabbing my daughter’s hand? And you want to settle this issue? The minister said ‘Yes’. Then is it appropriate for the CM to justify him?”
Satheesan further said the minister attempted to threaten the father and withdraw the complaint by misusing the position. “Is this the job of a minister? When did ministers start settling the cases which are pending with the police department? I cannot believe that you have supported this minister.”