Kerala panel indicts Achuthanandan for favouring son
A special seven-member committee of the Kerala assembly on Thursday presented its report indicting VS Achuthanandan for flouting rules in getting his son VA Arun Kumar appointed as head of two state-run institutions when the veteran Marxist was chief minister.
The panel was probing four allegations: the appointment of Arun Kumar as director of the state-run ICT Academy; his appointment as director of the Model Finishing School; his appointment as additional director of state-run Institute of Human Resources Department (his parent department); and the financial irregularities of the SPACE organisation.
The panel dismissed allegations No 2 and 4, and found the first and 3rd to be true.
"Of the four allegations raised on the floor of the house by Congress legislator PC Vishnunath against Achuthanandan, the committee finds that Achuthanandan favoured his son to be appointed as the state-run ICT Academy and there was large scale violations of norms and procedures and his son did not have the required qualifications to be appointed as additional director of the state-run Institute of Human Resources and Development. However there was no finding of Arun Kumar committing any financial irregularity," VD Satheesan, Congress legislator and chairman of the committee, told reporters here.
The report was tabled amid much pandemonium with the opposition insisting that their dissent should be included in the report, to which Speaker G. Karthikeyan said their dissent can be tabled separately.
Speaker Karthikeyan had on July 20 last year set up the committee, headed by Satheeshan, which included four legislators each from the opposition and treasury benches.
Achuthanandan had himself demanded that an assembly committee should be set up to probe the allegations against him.
"We found that Arun Kumar's appointment as joint director of IHRD was against norms and his promotion as additional director also was done after changing the qualifications required to suit him. Arun Kumar has only a master's degree in Computer applications, whereas the qualifications originally asked for was a master's degree in engineering and eight years of teaching experience. It was changed to suit Arun Kumar's qualifications," said Satheeshan.
Congress legislator PC Vishnunath, who first raised the allegation, told reporters: "Do you know in the interview for the post of additional director, Arun Kumar got more marks than his teacher who also applied for the same post. He was ranked first among those who attended the interview, even though others were better qualified than him."
Vishnunath further expressed hope that the state government would take appropriate action.
However, the opposition said the report was partisan, devoid of facts and with the only aim of tarnishing a leader like Achuthanandan.
"This is a politically motivated report aimed to throw muck on Achuthanandan as the Piravom by-election is only a few days ahead (March 17)," said a CPI-M leader.
The committee had made 14 sittings and took statements from 17 people including Achuthanandan, former education minister M.A. Baby, and top bureaucrats besides Arun Kumar.
More than 5,500 documents were verified.