A Bengaluru court on Monday asked former Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy and four others to pay Rs 1,60,85,700 to a city-based businessman in connection with a solar power project that never took off. A firm, SCOSSA Educational Consultants Private Limited, has also been made liable to pay penalty in the case. The court directed the defendants to also pay an interest of 12% per annum, PTI reported.

The court said the defendants were "jointly and severally liable to pay the said sum" to MK Kuruvilla within six months. The petitioner had filed a case seeking refund of the Rs 1,60,85,700 he had deposited with SCOSSA Educational Consultants Private Limited to set up a solar power project in Kerala.

Kuruvilla said he had met Binu Nair in 2011, who claimed to be the director of the firm in question. Nair had allegedly sold him the idea of setting up a solar power project by telling him that Chandy’s first cousin would be appointed consultant in the project. Nair had also claimed that a Congress activist named Diljith was also a director at his firm. He had said that Diljith was Chandy's private secretary.

He said he gave Rs 1.35 crore to the three men for the project, but that they stopped answering his phone calls after receiving the money. Kuruvilla also said the men threatened to hurt his family if he tried to take any legal action against them.

An accused in the scam, Sarita Nair, and her partner Biju Radhakrishnan were arrested in 2013 for duping investors of lakhs of rupees after promising to install solar panels for them or offering them shares in large solar farms. After receiving the money, they would disappear. Chandy and other Congress ministers were also accused of taking large amounts of money and sexual favours as part of the scam. In his defence, the chief minister at the time had claimed the liquor lobby started this conspiracy after the state decided to close down bars in Kerala.

The scam became an important issue ahead of the Assembly polls in May, which Chandy lost.