- Thomas Chandy, Transport Minister, accused of illegal land grabbing
- High Court comes down hard on him for challenging official's report
- Chief Minister P Vijayan under pressure to remove Chandy
Mr Chandy, who is the Transport Minister and Kerala's richest legislator with Rs 92 crore of declared assets, had challenged the report prepared by the District Collector of Alapuzzha, a coastal town 150 km from the capital of Thiruvanathapuram.
In her report, filed last month, the government official said that agricultural land used for paddy has been encroached upon by a resort owned by Mr Chandy. A road leading to the resort and a parking lot were illegally built.
The court today castigated the minister for filing a petition "against his own government." It added, "The act of the minister amounts to violation of collective cabinet responsibility."
A whistleblower has also alleged that a company owned by Mr Chandy has allegedly been illegally developing a part along the lake Vembanad, one of the largest in India, with the intent of commercially developing the section.
"We are ready to showcase the proof to any common public as we are clear in our conscience and are running this resort in the best manner", a manager at the resort, Bency George, had earlier told NDTV.
The opposition is demanding the resignation of Mr Chandy - a call that is bolstered by today's high court decision.
Kerala minister, however, on growing demand for his resignation said, "If there is an observation against me in the verdict, no doubt, I will quit."
"A decision will be taken (on Mr Chandy's removal) after studying the court's decision in detail," Chief Minister Vijayan said today. Mr Chandy belongs to the Nationalist Congress Party, an ally of the CPM, which leads the coalition government in Kerala.
Mr Vijayan took over as Chief Minister last year; two ministers have been forced to quit since then. While one resigned over alleged nepotism, the other, who was from Mr Chandy's party, was recorded allegedly having phone sex and the conversation was aired on a local channel. Mr Chandy was inducted in the cabinet in place of him in April.