Special Correspondent

Former High Court judge to chair the three-member panel

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala Cabinet on Wednesday decided to appoint a permanent commission to recommend the criteria for identifying the `creamy layer' among the Backward Classes for exclusion from reservation benefits.

Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan told the media that former High Court judge Rajendra Babu would chair the three-member commission.

The commission is being appointed in the light of the Supreme Court verdict setting aside the report of the K.K. Narendran Commission, which had recommended the criteria three years ago.

The Chief Minister said the State Government would file a review petition before the Supreme Court seeking clarifications on certain aspects of the judgment which were not clear. (These include the fate of appointments made as per the recommendations of the Narendran Commission and the ongoing recruitments).

Mr. Achuthanandan said that two members of the commission would be named after the next Cabinet meeting.

He said that the former judge of the High Court Pareethu Pillai would be appointed as commission to inquire into the boat tragedy at Thattekkad which had claimed 18 lives, including 15 schoolchildren.

The Cabinet also approved the liquor policy for the next financial year.

Mr. Achuthanandan said toddy shops closed during the United Democratic Front's rule "as a vindictive measure against toddy workers" would be reopened. Shops contracted on group basis this year would be allowed to be run on the same basis next year and others on individual basis. Preference would be given to those running the shops now. He said the Cabinet had, in principle, approved the Kochi Metro Rail Project. A special cell would be set up to draw up the details and retired Additional General Manager of Southern Railway Gopinathan Nair would be appointed as special officer.

The Cabinet, he said, would take a decision on taking Asian Development Bank loan for the Kerala Sustainable Urban Development Project at its next meeting.