KERALA WOMEN'S COMMISSION OPENS ENQUIRY AGAINST DEVIKULAM MLA

Kerala Women's Commission (KWC) on Monday began an investigation on its own against S. Rajendran, MLA, on the charge of having publicly insulted Devikulam sub-collector, Renu Raj, for her attempt to stop an allegedly illegal construction by the panchayat in ecologically sensitive Munnar in Idukki district.

KWC chairperson, M.C. Josephine, told that the registration of the case against Mr. Rajendran was the Commission's standard response to issues involving alleged denigration of women. Another KWC official said the Commission had taken notice of a widely aired video footage in which Mr. Rajendran was seen questioning the mental faculties of the woman 2015 batch IAS officer. He said the Commission would soon issue a notice to the legislator representing Devikulam constituency.

The incident that cast Mr. Rajendran in the eye of a political storm occurred on Friday when Revenue officials arrived at the behest of the sub-collector to serve a stop memo to prevent the construction of a shopping complex in land owned by the local panchayat. Mr. Rajendran allegedly made the purported comment when he tried to turn back the Revenue officials on the ground that they had no authority to serve the panchayat a stop memo for attempting to build on its land.

Mr. Rajendran has since denied the allegation and said that it was not his intent to hurt the officer. He said he had commented in his usual homespun manner of speaking and was sorry if he had hurt anyone unintentionally. He had interfered in the issue to ensure the smooth functioning of the local body, which was primarily responsible for the post-flood reconstruction of Idukki.

Revenue Minister E. Chandrasekharan of the CPI has backed the sub-collector. He told journalists that society should allow officers to discharge their duty without fear. CPI State secretary Kanam Rajendran echoed a similar sentiment and said the sub-collector had fulfilled her legal obligation.

Officials said the sub-collector had filed a report to the Government detailing the alleged attempt by Mr .Rajendran and others, including the president of the Congress-ruled Devikulam panchayat, to block revenue officials who tried to prevent the unauthorised construction. They said the State would send the report to the Advocate General for legal advice. Meanwhile, the Kerala State IAS Officer's Association has reportedly flagged-up the issue with the Government.