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probe hits a snag

Ministers question legal standing of committee

A fresh problem has arisen in the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) after two ministers had refused to cooperate with the three-member committee appointed by Chief Minister, C.V. Wigneswaran to probe allegations of corruption.
Accordingly, the two ministers have questioned the legality of the three-member committee appointed by the Chief Minister.
Minister of Fisheries and Transport, B. Deniswaran speaking to the Nation alleged that the committee appointed had no legal standing.

“We are willing to be questioned and we are willing to cooperate. But we have our doubts over the legal standing of the committee,” Deniswaran said. All four ministers had earlier agreed to cooperate with the committee. However, Deniswaran said that after recent unrest within the NPC, they had serious doubts over the motive of the Chief Minister and the progress of the investigations. “We initially agreed to cooperate to assist the process. But now we sense some motive involved in the process,” he alleged.

“We want an independent body. We are even willing to go on more than a month leave, or even to resign. Why is the Chief Minister reluctant to appoint an independent body?” he questioned.

Deniswaran also pointed out that the investigation report of the committee was not conclusive. “Two ministers were asked to resign after having been found guilty. But there are no evidence to support the amount of money involved in corruption,” Deniswaran pointed out.

The Chief Minister has also been accused of acting in a bias manner, where it is alleged that he had not informed all councilors of the appointment of two new ministers.
Northern Provincial Council members Ananthi Sasitharan and K Sarveswaran were today appointed Provincial Ministers. Sarveswaran was appointed as the Provincial Minister of Education and Sasitharan as the Provincial Minister of Resettlement and Women Affairs.
“He had informed those who were with him and not the others. Even those who were appointed were chosen from among those who backed him during the recent turmoil,” Deniswaran added.

The committee comprising two retired judges and a retired public administrative officer was appointed in November 2016 to probe allegations of corruption and abuse of power against all four ministers.

In May, two Ministers, P. Ainkaranesan (Minister of Agriculture) and T. Gurukularajah (Minister of Education) were said to have been found guilty of financial corruption and abuse of power respectively following which the Chief Minister ordered them to tender their resignation while the other two B. Deniswaran (Fisheries and Transport) and P. Sathyalingam (Health and Indegenious Medicine) were sent on one month leave pending investigations.

The investigations against the latter could not be carried out as those who made the allegations failed to appear before the committee.