Thiruvananthapuram

Lokayukta opens probe against Pinarayi

The Kerala Lokayukta on Monday began an inquiry into the allegation that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan abused his position to grant financial assistance to at least three ‘ineligible’ persons from the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF).

A full bench of the Lokayukta decided by majority vote to allow the complaint filed by public interest litigant R.S. Sashikumar.

Lokayukta Pius C. Kuriakose and Upalokayukta K.P. Balachandran permitted the admission of the charge while Upalokayukta A.K. Basheer expressed dissent.

Allegations

Mr. Sashikumar had submitted in court that Mr. Vijayan and his Cabinet had in 2017 diverted money from the CMDRF to give assistance to the family of the late NCP leader Uzhavoor Vijayan.

He used the emergency funds meant to mitigate the suffering of those displaced by disasters to write off the debts of the late CPI(M) legislator K.K. Ramachandran and compensate the family of a police officer, Praveen, who had died the same year while on escort duty for CPI(M) State secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.

The Chief Minister’s decisions smacked of political favouritism. The petitioner requested the court to disqualify Mr. Vijayan and his Cabinet colleagues from holding office, if found guilty.

“CM’s discretion”

The special attorney for the government argued that the Chief Minister had absolute discretion to release CMDRF funds as he thought fit to any individual and institution if circumstances necessitated and justified such assistance.

The Lokayukta had constituted a full bench to weigh the complaint after one of the judges expressed doubt whether the forum had the jurisdiction to investigate the disbursement of assistance from the CMDRF.

Majority decision

It later decided 2 to 1 that Mr. Sashikumar’s complaint was maintainable and issued notices to Mr. Vijayan and his Cabinet colleagues.

The Lokayukta said it had not found any party guilty of the allegations but had found there was ground for admitting the petition.

Mr. Balachandran said in his order that all decisions of the government were liable to be inquired into if it was subjected to allegations as defined in the Lokayukta Act.

Mr. Basheer said the Chief Minister had broad discretionary powers to allow CMDRF resources as he deemed fit and the judicial forum could not scrutinise Cabinet decisions.


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Printable version | May 24, 2022 2:37:16 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/lokayukta-opens-probe-against-pinarayi/article25995399.ece