Thiruvananthapuram: Causing embarrassment to UDF's chief ministerial contender Oommen Chandy, a Special Vigilance Court here gave sanction to conduct further probe in the palmolein graft case. Chandy was Finance Minister in the UDF cabinet that cleared the deal in 1991.

While allowing the prosecution's plea seeking further probe on the ground that some more persons were likely to become accused in the case, Vigilance Special Judge S Jagadish asked the investigating agency to complete the fresh probe and submit report within three months.

The Court observed that the prosecution had the right with further investigation under Section 173 (8) of Cr PC and hence formal sanction was being granted.

The Court, however, did not mention any name or make specific observations in its order.

The palmolein case, in which former CVC P J Thomas (then Food Secretary) and former Food Minister T H Musthafa are among the accused, took a political turn last month with Musthafa mentioning the name of Chandy in his discharge plea.

Musthafa said it was fair enough to have Chandy spared in the case, but the same fairness was not shown in his case when he was listed as an accused.

Musthafa's plea came handy for the Left parties to target Chandy alleging that he was also responsible for the Cabinet decision.

Reacting to the Court order, Chandy said he would co-operate with the investigation. But the LDF owed an explanation to the people as to why his name was not mentioned anywhere in connection with the case in the last 20 years.

As speculation had been rife that he might opt out of contest for the assembly polls if his name was mentioned in the case, Chandy said he had told the High Command what he would do if he was made an accused after the investigation.

The case related to alleged corruption in the import of 30,000 tonnes of palmolein from Malaysia at exorbitant rates, which allegedly caused a loss of Rs 2.32 crore to the exchequer in 1991-92.

The UDF government led by Oommen Chandy had decided in 2005 to close the palmolein case in which late Chief Minister K Karunakaran was the first accused. However, the LDF government under V S Achuthanandan decided to reopen the case in 2006.

(Agencies)