Former Kerala minister cleared of misbehaviour charges

May 11th, 2009 - 2:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Kottayam (Kerala), May 11 (IANS) Former Kerala public works minister P.J. Joseph was Monday acquitted by a Tamil Nadu court of charges that he had misbehaved with a woman passenger on a flight. Mons Joseph, who now holds the portfolio, said he would resign to enable his predecessor to return to the post.
Vaikom Viswan, the ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) convenor, told reporters here that he was happy to hear about P.J. Joseph’s acquittal by a court in Sriperumbudur, but said his re-appointment as minister would be decided later.

“If Joseph will go on to become a minister (or not) will be decided later at the appropriate forum and cannot be disclosed now,” said Viswan.

Joseph, the chairman of the Kerala Congress-Joseph, was replaced by T.U. Kuruvilla as public works minister in September 2006 after the former quit the cabinet over allegations that he misbehaved with a woman on board a Chennai-Kochi flight in August that year.

Mons Joseph took over from Kuruvilla, who also resigned in the wake of a land scam involving his children.

P.J. Jospeph’s supporters took out a rally shouting slogans in favour of their leader in his hometown in Thodupuzha as soon as the news of the acquittal came.

Current Public Works Minister Mons Joseph addressed reporters here minutes after the court gave his party chairman P.J. Jospeh a clean chit and said he would step down.

“I informed the chairman that I am holding a press conference here to announce my decision to resign to make way for him. He said that he and his family were leaving on a pilgrimage to the Velankanni church (in Tamil Nadu),” Mons Joseph said.

“It is for the party to decide the future course of action but I am clear I will step down in favour of my party chairman. This acquittal is going to give a huge boost to our party,” he added.

Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan said in Thiruvananthapuram: “I am happy to hear about the acquittal. Whether or not he becomes minister has to be decided by his party and the LDF.”

The counsel for Lekshmi Gopakumar, the woman who had accused P.J. Joseph of misbehaviour, said that they would appeal against the verdict.

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