Kerala High Court: The Bench of B. Sudheendra Kumar, J. imposed cost of Rs 25,000 each on Kerala’s former transport minister Thomas Chandy, his son Toby Chandy, Water World Tourism Company Director Biji K John and Alappuzha Harbour Engineering Division Executive Engineer Jose Mathew, for wasting Court’s time by unnecessarily filing a petition challenging the criminal case registered against them.
Facts of the matter date back to August, 2017 when Alappuzha District Collector submitted a report stating that portions of Marthandam lake in Alappuzha (the heartland of backwater tourism in the State) had been usurped by Transport Minister and National Congress Party (NCP) member Thomas Chandy, for building his lake-side resort, and that he had illegally filled adjoining paddy fields in order to level it for parking lot, thereby causing ecological violations.
One might recall that despite Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s unwavering support for Chandy, he was forced to resign in November, 2017 after this Court dismissed Chandy’s plea to quash land grabbing charges, asking him to first resign and then dispute the report of District Collector. The resignation came amidst high drama after four ministers of the Communist Party of India (CPI), the second ruling coalition partner, boycotted a cabinet meeting.
Taking cognizance of the District Collector’s report, State Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau conducted a probe into the matter, and FIR was registered against Chandy and other officials for violating provisions of the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act, 2008. The instant petition was filed by Chandy and four others seeking quashing of the case against them.
The petition was heard and judgment in the case had been reserved for pronouncement on 04-02-2019. However, on 01-02-2019, the petitioners submitted that they wanted to withdraw this petition, and accordingly, a memo for withdrawal of case was filed on 04-02-2019. The cases were re-listed on 05-02-2019 along with the said memo, on which date, this Court allowed withdrawal of the petition. However, it was opined that “since the petitioners had wasted precious time of this Court”, costs of Rs. 25,000 be imposed on all petitioners except the resort supervisor Jijimon Varghese.[Jose Mathew v. State of Kerala, 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 768, Order dated 05-02-2019]