The Kerala Lok Ayukta, the state anti-corruption ombudsman, is set to consider the plea of a complainant questioning delay in delivering the verdict in his case against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and some other ministers of the previous cabinet. RS Sasikumar, a former member of the Kerala University Syndicate who complained against the government to the Lok Ayukta, approached the Kerala High Court alleging delay in delivering the verdict despite completion of the hearing. The court directed the petitioner to approach the Lok Ayukta instead.
Sasikumar had alleged serious nepotism in the distribution of the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF) during the first Pinarayi Vijayan ministry. The plea to the anti-corruption ombudsman was filed in September 2018, and the hearing ended on March 18, 2022. The case was heard by Lokayukta Cyriac Joseph and Harun Al Rashid.
The allocation of Rs 25 lakh to the family of the late NCP leader Uzhavoor Vijayan, Rs 20 lakh to the family of Praveen, the deceased gunman of Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, and the payment of personal debts owed by former MLA KK Ramachandran Nair were cited as nepotism in the petition.
It is worth noting that fearing Lok Ayukta’s action, Pinarayi Vijayan had passed a bill to curtail Lok Ayukta’s powers, but it is yet to receive the governor’s assent. As of now, the ombudsman can sack ministers, including the chief minister. The bill amends this provision and gives the government and governor the final say in such adverse verdicts. The Lok Ayukta had ordered MLA KT Jaleel to step down as minister in April 2021 on charges of nepotism.
The delay in delivering the verdict has raised concerns among the public about the transparency and effectiveness of the Lok Ayukta. However, the Lok Ayukta’s decision on Friday is expected to bring clarity to the issue and provide justice to the complainant.
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