Kerala CMDRF misuse case: Lokayukta full bench to start fresh hearing tomorrow

Apr 11, 2023 04:18 PM IST

The Opposition Congress in Kerala criticised the Lokayukta last week for attending an Iftar party hosted by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan

A three-member full bench of the Kerala Lokayukta will hear a case related to the alleged misuse of the chief minister’s disaster relief fund (CMDRF) on Wednesday.

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan. (File Photo)
Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan. (File Photo)

Last week the two-member bench of the anti-corruption body had referred the case to a full bench following differences of opinion between the judges, inviting criticism from various quarters. The new hearing was scheduled to begin on Tuesday but it was deferred to Wednesday following a request by petitioner R S Sasikumar, an activist and former senate member of the Kerala University.

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On Tuesday, the bench criticised the petitioner’s observations against members of Lokayukta last week after they attended an Iftar party hosted by the CM in the state capital Thiruvananthapuram. The petitioner had said that he did not expect justice from the members of the Lokayukta.

State Congress president K Sudhakaran, Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) leader and member of Parliament (MP) N K Premachandran and many others had also questioned the propriety of Lokayukta members attending a party hosted by the CM when a case was pending against him before their bench.

However, ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) convener E P Jayarajan maintained that it was nothing unusual saying that earlier also judges had attended such functions. He said it was wrong to give negative interpretations to the issue.

The Lokayukta also faced criticism last week after it referred the case to a larger bench after sitting over the verdict for more than a year. Differences of opinion cropped up between two judges whether a Cabinet decision can be subjected to its scrutiny and investigation or not. Now the full bench will hear the case afresh delaying the case further, said legal experts.

In his petition filed in 2018, Sasikumar alleged serious diversion of CMDRF. He said 25 lakh was granted to late Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Uzhavoor Vijayans’ daughter and 8 lakh was given to the family of late MLA K K Ramachandran Nair to take back mortgaged gold and 6 lakh to waive off the car loan taken by the late legislator. Besides this, 20 lakh was given to the family of a policeman who was killed in an accident involving the pilot car of former secretary of the ruling CPI(M), late Kodiyeri Balakrishnan. He said money meant for those in dire need and distress was illegally diverted to those close to the party in power and the CM misused his power in the process.

However, the LDF has said that the case was unwarranted and politically motivated.

While the trial in the case ended in March last year, the final verdict was delayed for over a year, prompting the petitioner to approach the high court two weeks ago. But the court asked the petitioner to approach the Lokayukta first and approach the court if he has further complaints.

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