- Apprentice Lawyer
The Kerala High Court on Friday granted bail to former Kerala Public Works Department Minister VK Ebrahim Kunju on the ground of deterioration in his health condition (VK Ebrahim Kunju v. State of Kerala).
Kunju had moved the High Court following his arrest on allegations of corruption during the controversial Palarivattom flyover project.
The Court directed Ebrahim Kunju to deposit a sum of Rs 2,00,000 as bail bond and ordered him to remain within the limits of Ernakulam district.
The Court had earlier dismissed Ebrahim Kunju's previous application for bail, granting him liberty to move a fresh bail application once he was discharged from hospital, where he is presently being treated for various illnesses.
In its previous order, the Bench reasoned that the Minister could not be allowed on bail since the investigation by the state vigilance department needed to continue so as to unearth the truth about the project.
In the earlier application, which had also cited the former minister's health as a bail condition, the Court opined that since the former Minister was undergoing treatment under the supervision of doctors and a hospital of his choice, the benefit of the proviso to Section 437 of the Code of Criminal Procedure did not arise.
Section 437 allows court to enlarge an ill person or a woman on bail, per its discretion.
The minister moved the Court again this week through his counsel Senior Advocate B Raman Pillai.
Ebrahim Kunju contended that since his health has taken a turn for the worse, he should not be sent to prison where there was a risk of contracting Covid-19.
After referring to the medical reports produced, Justice Kunhikrishnan remarked that the fresh bail application demonstrated a shift in circumstances which merited grant of bail.
The Vigilance, through State Attorney KV Sohan had raised initial objections to the bail application, pointing out that the former minister had moved a lower court for permission to contest the General Election to the Administrative Committee of the Kerala Muslim Educational Society.
Following a statement from the petitioner's side that the application for permission had been withdrawn, the State submitted that it did not dispute the medical reports produced.
Accordingly, the former Minister was granted bail today, with stern warning against leaving the limits of Ernakulam, where he is presently undergoing treatment.
The Palarivattom flyover, a pet project of the previous United Democratic Front (UDF) government, ran into trouble after the flyover was found to be unsafe for commute. Shortly thereafter, the project began to be investigated for graft.
Investigating authorities have argued that the Palarivattom flyover contract was not handed to the lowest bidder, as was the usual practice. The payment of an advance amount for the project to the contractors was also been assailed.
In November 2020, Ebrahim Kunju, the Minister who had been at the helm of the PWD during the project’s completion, was arrested by the Vigilance department, citing his probable involvement in corruption. The department claimed that the Minister was not cooperating with investigation, while alleging that the Minister had taken a bribe for the project.