Kerala

Congress sees dissension in LDF

The Congress has sought to exploit the perceived dissension in the Left Democratic Front (LDF) over the move to promulgate an Ordinance to relegate the Kerala Lok Ayukta to a "trifling" advisory role in cases relating to allegations of corruption and maladministration against public servants.

Leader of the Opposition V. D. Satheesan claims that the CPI has taken strong exception to the bid to defang the ombudsman via a "rash" executive order on the eve of the budget session of the Assembly. Mr. Satheesan appears to peg his argument on CPI State secretary Kanam Rajendran's purported position that the government should have ideally introduced a Bill in the House to redeem anomalies, if any, in the Lok Ayukta Act, 1999.

Mr. Satheesan alleges that the CPI(M) had conspiratorially pressed for an executive order in a Cabinet meeting last week to dilute Section 14 of the Kerala Lok Ayukta Act. It has not consulted its LDF allies. He alleges that the proposed Ordinance aims at forestalling the Constitutional and political fallout of possible adverse Lok Ayukta findings against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Higher Education Minister R. Bindu.

Investigation on

The Lok Ayukta is currently investigating allegations of corruption and nepotism against them. The complainants, including Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala, had moved the ombudsman for a "declaration" banning the leaders from holding public office under Section 14 of the Act.

Mr. Satheesan also says the move to dilute the Lok Ayukta goes against the grain of the CPI(M) central committee's support for a powerful Lok Pal and Lok Ayukta. He slams Law Minister P. Rajeeve's claim that the Lok Ayukta Act violates Article 164 of the Constitution. CPI(M) State secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan has echoed a similar view.

"How could a Minister deem a law passed by the Assembly as Unconstitutional? Such privilege is the preserve of the judiciary," he says.

In an article in the CPI(M) mouthpiece Deshabhimani , Mr. Balakrishnan suggests that the Lok Ayukta law in its current form could open the door for undue interference by the Centre in State affairs. He seems to hinge his argument on Section 14 that deems the Governor the "competent authority" to act upon an "adverse declaration" by the Lok Ayukta. As per the Act, the Lok Ayukta's declaration is binding on the competent authority and pointedly lacks an appeal provision.

Mr. Rajendran, in what appears to be a riposte to Mr. Balakrishnan's argument, says an Ordinance is no resistance against the trespasses on federalism. "Only a mustering of popular opinion could resist such overreach," he adds.


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Printable version | May 16, 2022 8:46:16 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/congress-sees-dissension-in-ldf/article38341438.ece