Underwear from Down Under haunts Kerala Minister

A case involving an underwear from Down Under, which first created waves three decades ago, became the centre of attention of the Kerala High Court on Friday when the court came down heavily on the slow progress in the case, and it also assumes significance as the matter involves State Transport Minister Antony Raju.

The court, while considering a public interest litigation filed by a private party on the delay, asked a local court in the state capital city to explain the reason for the delays and posted the case after two weeks, to consider it should be accepted.

The case dates back to 1990 when an Australian national, Andrew Salvatore Cervelli, was caught with hashish concealed in his underwear — a dark blue one at the Thiruvananthapuram airport.

Raju at that time was working as a junior advocate in the state capital city and his senior had appeared for the accused at the court, here.

Later Cervellie was acquitted after his lawyers argued that the under garment produced as evidence was of small size and not fitting on the accused.

But, the investigating officer then moved the High Court raising the point of tampering of evidence.

Following which the Vanchiyoor police in the capital city registered a case in 1994.

The investigation later revealed Jose, a court clerk along with Raju had tampered with the evidence (under garment – by taking it and re-stitching it and made it to the size of that of a young boy) and the duo were charged with conspiracy, tampering of documents, cheating and destruction of evidence.

However, nothing much happened after that. But the case resurfaced in 2006 just before the Assembly polls and the then Leader of Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan, who led the Left to victory and became chief minister, said they will not be able to give a seat to Raju and he failed to get it.

Then again this case went into the deep freeze, but emerged a few weeks ago when a journalist put all the case documents in public domain through his social media account.

Soon this became the cynosure of the media where juicy reports on how the whole episode was stage managed, especially by Raju, and even more crucial was that though the case was taken for hearing numerous times, for some reason, the charge sheet was not read out to the accused and the trial was yet to begin.

It was based on these reports that a private person approached the High Court. And on Friday the court said it cannot sit idle when such things are brought before them and asked the trial court to give a report on the reasons for the delay.

Meanwhile, Raju when told about the developments in the court, said that since it’s sub-judice, he will not speak about it.

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