Sacked Kerala minister pleads innocence in misbehaviour with woman case


Thiruvananthapuram : Former Kerala Minister P.J. Joseph, who was forced to step down on charges of misbehaving with a woman inside a plane last year, said Tuesday he was innocent and the whole issue was a political conspiracy.

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Joseph, who held the public works department portfolio, had allegedly touched the body a 53-year-old woman on a Chennai-Kochi flight Aug 3. He resigned Sep 4 following huge public pressure. Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan had ordered a judicial probe into the charge.

Joseph is the chairman of the Kerala Congress (Joseph), an ally of the ruling Left Democratic Front.

The issue surfaced again Monday evening after a TV channel aired a report of B. Sandhya, an inspector general of police who had first inquired about the incident.

The report, which was made public under the Right to Information Act, said there was no conspiracy against Joseph.

On Tuesday, Joseph told reporters here that the truth would be revealed if another probe was ordered into the involvement of top leaders of Congress and other political parties into what actually happened.

"Ninety percent of Sandhya's report clearly says that I am innocent. I have been a minister on five different occasions and in 35 different cases, I have been absolved of all charges. This is a deep-rooted conspiracy to tarnish my image," Joseph said.

The former minister said he was unable to apologise to the woman as she was furious after his fingers touched her body accidentally inside the flight.