The decision to constitute a three-member bench was taken after Lokayukta Cyriac Joseph and Upa Lokayukta Harun-ul-Rashid had a difference of opinion.
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Lokayukta has transferred the case about the alleged misuse of the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF) to a three-member full bench, giving some respite to CM Pinarayi Vijayan, who is a respondent in the case.
The decision to constitute a three-member bench was taken after Lokayukta Cyriac Joseph and Upa Lokayukta Harun-ul-Rashid had a difference of opinion. The date of the constitution of the new full bench will be decided later.
The complaint filed by former Kerala University syndicate member R S Sasikumar had alleged that the decision to provide financial assistance to the families of the late leaders, NCP’s Uzhavoor Vijayan and former Chengannur MLA K K Ramachandran Nair, and policeman P Praveen, who died in a road accident while escorting former CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, smacked of favouritism and was unilaterally taken by CM.
He had also alleged that the matter of assisting was not included in the agenda of the cabinet meeting and demanded the ouster of the CM and the ministers concerned.
The hearing was held from February 5, 2022, to March 18, 2022. As per the rules, the verdict should be given within 30 days from the culmination of the hearing. In case of extraordinary circumstances, it can be stretched by another 15 days. However, the verdict was indefinitely delayed following which the petitioner approached the High Court, which directed him to approach the Lokayukta instead.
As per the Kerala Lokayukta Act of 1999, the verdict of the anti-graft ombudsman is legally binding on the government. The LDF government, meanwhile, had brought an ordinance tweaking the powers of the Lokayukta to remove a public servant from office. However, the ordinance is yet to get the assent of Governor Arif Mohammad Khan.
The same Lokayukta bench had earlier found former higher education minister K T Jaleel guilty on charges of nepotism and abuse of power in appointing his relative as general manager of Kerala State Minorities Development Corporation. Following this, Jaleel had to resign from the cabinet.