Any SFIO probe ordered, warranted against CM's daughter's firm? Kerala HC asks Centre

HC questions Centre on SFIO probe into CM's daughter's firm
Kerala High Court
Kerala High Court
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and  daughter T Veena.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and daughter T Veena.

Kochi | The Kerala High Court on Wednesday asked the Centre whether it intends to order a probe by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) into the affairs of the software firm of Veena T, the daughter of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, and the Kochi-based company to which it was offering services.

Justice Devan Ramachandran posed the query to the central government after it filed a memo in court confirming that it has ordered an investigation under section 210 (investigation into affairs of company) of the Companies Act into the two companies.

However, the Centre had not followed the direction in the court's January 15 order to "obtain specific instructions, if any further action by the SFIO has been ordered or found warranted".

The lawyer for the central government told the court that the Ministry of Corporate Affairs can order an SFIO probe if it was of the opinion that the same was required.

The union government lawyer sought time to seek instructions from the ministry on whether an SFIO probe has been ordered or found warranted.

The court was hearing a plea by Shone George, a lawyer and son of veteran politician P C George, seeking an investigation into affairs of CMRL and Veena's company under the Companies Act and also by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO).

Meanwhile, the Cochin Minerals and Rutile Ltd (CMRL) -- whose payments to Veena's firm for services has snowballed into a political storm in the state -- told the court that since the ministry has ordered a probe under section 210 of the Companies Act, the relief sought in the petition has been satisfied.

The CMRL's lawyer also told the court that a query from it on whether an SFIO probe has been ordered might "push" the ministry to issue such a direction.

A controversy erupted in Kerala after a Malayalam daily reported last year that CMRL had paid a total of Rs 1.72 crore to the chief minister's daughter between 2017 and 2020.

The news report cited the ruling of an interim board for settlement and said that CMRL previously had an agreement with Veena's IT firm for consultancy and software support services.

It also alleged that although no service was rendered by her firm, the amount was paid on a monthly basis "due to her relationship with a prominent person".

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