In a setback to the Congress in Kerala, sexual assault charges have been levelled against three sitting legislators likely to be fielded by the opposition party in the Lok Sabha elections. A first information report (FIR) in the case was filed against Hibi Eden, Adoor Prakash and Anil Kumar on the basis of complaints filed by the accused in the 2013 solar panel scam.
While a case of rape has been registered under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against Ernakulam legislator Hibi Eden, Konni lawmaker Adoor Prakash has been charged under Section 354 for "outraging the modesty of a woman". AP Anil Kumar, on the other hand, has been charged with "unnatural sex" under Section 377 of the IPC. The FIRs have been filed by the Kerala police crime branch at a special court in Ernakulam.
Last year, sexual assault cases were registered against All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretaries Oommen Chandy and KC Venugopal on the basis of the complaint.
Hibi Eden dismissed the charges as an attempt at "political vendetta" by Kerala's Left government. "Although the complaint was filed a few years ago, the FIR has come only now. Top police officers had even said in the past that these complaints won't hold in a court of law. If the government was serious about these charges, why did it not take immediate action? Why did it wait for years, until the model code of conduct came into force?" he asked.
Adoor Prakash said that the allegations against him had been raised before the assembly elections too. "Now it's election time again, and allegations related to the solar scam are back in play. This is just politics being played by the ruling party here," he added.
Several investors were duped of crores of rupees by a woman and her co-accused in the alleged solar panel scam, which occurred under the previous Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) government. Subsequently, the woman levelled charges of sexual misconduct and corruption against several UDF leaders in a letter addressed to the Ernakulam police commissioner on July 19, 2013.