Lokayukta vetting plea against Kerala CM over disbursal from Relief Fund

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. File Photo

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala Lokayukta is presently considering a petition which alleged that money from the Chief Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund (CMDRF) was distributed to undeserving persons violating rules.

During a hearing over the plea on Monday, the government submitted before the Lokayukta, the documents in its possession related to distribution of the aid. They included the government files, orders and copies of the rules of business.

The documents were presented by Advocate Pathirappally Krishna Kumari, who represented the Kerala government.

According to the private petition filed earlier, money was given from CMDRF to the families of three persons who were close to the government and the ruling party, the CPM, violating the norms for aid distribution.

The three persons are: former NCP leader the late Uzhavoor Vijayan; the late K K Ramachandran Nair, who was a former Member of the Legislative Assembly from Chengannur and a CPM leader, and a police officer who died in an accident while providing escort to CPM state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.

(A petition questioned the granting of Rs 25 lakh from the CMDRF for the education of Uzhavoor Vijayan's daughter; another was against spending from CMDRF Rs 8 lakh to take back mortgaged gold belonging to Ramachandran Nair, and Rs 6 lakh to repay his car loan. The amount was advanced following his death in 2018; and the third petition was against granting Rs 20 lakh from the CMDRF to the family of the policeman. This amount was apart from other rightful benefits of his family.)

The advocate representing the petitioner argued that aid from the CMDRF in these three cases was allotted without sanction from the state cabinet. According to the complaint, government rules state that any amount more than Rs 3 lakh cannot be sanctioned from CMDRF by the chief minister alone, but needed a Cabinet nod.

However, the government’s advocate told the Lokayukta that the money was distributed after the Cabinet’s clearance.

It is widely believed that the state government amended the Kerala Lokayukta Act by way of an ordinance to pre-empt any adverse verdict over a few cases, including the three cited here, that are currently under the consideration of the anti-graft watchdog.

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