Ex-Kerala minister asked to appear before Chennai court

April 29th, 2008 - 6:01 pm ICT by admin  

Chennai, April 29 (IANS) A local court ordered former Kerala public works department minister P.J. Joseph “to receive the chargesheet May 20 without fail” in a television anchor’s molestation case, court officials told IANS Tuesday. Joseph was scheduled to appear before Judicial Magistrate Ramanathan Tuesday but his lawyers pleaded his inability due to personal reasons and sought a month’s adjournment.

Peeved over the repeated non-appearance of the former minister, the magistrate told Joseph’s lawyers N. Narendra and P. Singh that he must appear May 20 “without fail”.

Separate police teams from Tamil Nadu and Kerala were asked to probe the August 2006 incident in which Joseph was alleged to have molested television anchor Lakshmi Gopakumar during a Kingfisher Airlines Chennai-Kochi flight.

While Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Atchudanandan ordered Inspector General of Police B. Sandhya to investigate the charges, Tamil Nadu police appointed Assistant Commissioner of Police T. Kuppuswamy to conduct an enquiry.

Both officers told the court that, on the basis of corroborative evidence from the cabin crew and the pilots of the flight, they had reasons to believe that Joseph had outraged the modesty of the television anchor.

Joseph, a member of Atchudanandan’s cabinet, claimed a political conspiracy was afoot to malign him in August 2006 but resigned a month later.

In October 2006, police officials registered a complaint against Joseph under the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act, 1988.

The reports of the two police officers were submitted separately to the two governments and their extracts were filed in the court here March 30 this year.

Joseph, who heads a faction of the Kerala Congress which supports the Left Democratic Front regime in the state, had told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram that he would be present here Monday to receive the chargesheet.

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