A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Friday directed the State government not to disburse funds to the Kochi-Muziris Biennale Foundation until further orders.

The Bench comprising Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice K. Vinod Chandran issued the directive when a public interest petition filed by G. Ajith Kumar, secretary, Lantern Fine Arts Society, came up for hearing. The petitioner sought to restrain the State government from providing additional financial assistance to the Biennale Foundation.

Vigilance probe

The petitioner said the Cabinet had decided to allot Rs. 4 crore additional funds to the foundation on March 27. The decision to sanction additional funds was taken after inspections undertaken by the Finance Department. The State had initially given Rs. 5 crore to the foundation.

A preliminary probe conducted by the government into the functioning of the foundation found several irregularities. Though the government had ordered a Vigilance probe as recommended by the inspection wing of the Finance Department, it later withdrew the order.

Against submission

In reply to the court’s query, the State government had earlier submitted that there had not been any proposal to grant additional financial assistance to the foundation. The petitioner pointed out that the decision to provide additional amount to the foundation went against its submissions before the High Court. The State government had also submitted that it had provided all support to the foundation as it was of the view that the exhibition would serve the larger interest of the State.

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