Split verdict in Lok Ayukta, CMDRF misuse case referred to three-member bench

Pinarayi Vijayan | File Photo: Manorama
The verdict could prove crucial to Pinarayi Vijayan as he is the only person holding power among the 16 accused. Photo: Manorama

Thiruvananthapuram: Anti-corruption watchdog Lok Ayukta arrived at a split verdict in a case pertaining to the misuse of Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF) on Friday.

The case has been referred to a three-member bench of the Lok Ayukta.


Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, 16 Ministers who was part of his first regime (2016-21) and the then Chief Secretary are the accused.

A bench of the Kerala Lok Ayukta comprising Lok Ayukta Cyriac Joseph and Deputy Lok Ayukta Harun Ul-Rashid pronounced the verdict.

The verdict was crucial to Pinarayi Vijayan as he is the only person holding power among the 16 accused. The judgment usually takes force instantly as per the provisions of the the Kerala Lok Ayukta Act, 1999. The current State Government's legislative bid to curtail the powers of the anti-graft ombudsman is yet to get the assent of the Governor.

The petition filed by R S Sasikumar, former Syndicate member of the Kerala University, demanded that since the fund was misused, the amount should be recovered from those who took part in the relevant Cabinet meeting and that they should be declared disqualified.

Sasikumar alleged that the money was given to those who were not supposed to get the relief. These included the family of a deceased CPM legislator, the family of a top leader from a Left ally who passed away, and also a Kerala Police officer who died when his vehicle met with an accident while accompanying late CPM leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.

The complainant had petitioned the Lok Ayukta on the directive of the Kerala High Court after no verdict was passed even a year after the arguments were concluded.

The High Court had asked the petitioner to approach the Lok Ayukta with his petition and it was after this ruling came, that the Lok Ayukta decided to take up the case on Friday.

Earlier this month the High Court had dismissed the plea to hand over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) the investigation into the misuse of the CMDRF.

Incidentally, during the fag end of the first Pinarayi Vijayan Government the then State Higher Education Minister K T Jaleel had to quit following the Lok Ayukta verdict indicting him for misuse of official powers.

Hence, all eyes are on the Lok Ayukta which will meet on Friday to deliver another verdict against the CM and his former Cabinet members.

The alleged misuse
The petition cites the following payments from the CMDRF as against the norms:
· An amount of Rs 25 lakh paid for the education of the children of the late Uzhavoor Vijayan, who was the leader of the Nationalist Congress Party.
· The appointment of the son of former Chengannur legislator late Ramachandran Nair as an assistant engineer and paying Rs 8.5 lakh for redeeming his wife’s pledged gold and to settle his car loan.
· Rs 20 lakh paid to the wife of a civil police officer who died when the pilot vehicle of CPM leader late Kodiyeri Balakrishnan met with an accident. This solatium was in addition to appointing her in a government job.     

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