The Kerala High Court on Monday refused to stay an order of the Lokayukta referring an alleged case of misuse of Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF) involving Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and former ministers to the full bench.
A Division Bench comprising acting Chief Justice SV Bhatti and Justice Basant Balaji, while referring the case to the full bench, said they would be considering the petition next week.
The Kerala Lokayukta on 31 March referred to a full bench the case pertaining to alleged misuse of the CMDRF to the full bench, as the Lokayukta and the Upa Lokayukta had a difference of opinion.
The Division Bench of Lokayukta comprising Lokayukta Cyriac Joseph and Upa lokayukta Harun-ul-Rashid differed on whether the Cabinet’s decision to allocate money from the Chief Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund (CMDRF)can be reviewed under the Lokayukta Act.
The Bench comprising Lokayukta Cyriac Joseph and Upalok Ayukta Harun-Ul-Rashid ruled that “as there is difference of opinion between us on the basic issue whether the action of respondents 2 to 18 in taking the impugned decisions as members of the Cabinet can be subjected to investigation under the provisions of the Kerala Lok Ayukta Act, 1999 and on the merits of the allegations raised by the complainant, we are constrained to place this complaint for investigation by the Lok Ayukta and both the Upa Lok Ayuktas together as required under Section 7(1) of the Kerala Lok Ayukta Act, 1999,” the order said.
However, the Lokayukta order does not specify the details about the difference of opinion, differed on whom, what are the different positions of the judges in the bench.
The complainant RS Sasikumar moved the high court stating that Lokayukta full bench had in 2019 found his complaint maintainable and had issued notice to the respondents. He also said the hearing of the case was held from 5 February 2022, to 18 March 2022, as the anti-corruption body found his complaint maintainable.
It has been pointed out that a full bench comprising Lokayukta Justice Pius C Kuriakose, and Upa-lokayuktas Justices K P Balachandran and A K Basheer in January 2019 decided to admit the complaint filed by R S Sasikumar. The bench decided that the complaint was maintainable before the Lokayukta and ordered notice to the respondents.
A former syndicate member of Kerala University RS Sasikumar has filed the complaint before the Lokayukta in 2018.Sasikumar had alleged that chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and other ministers in his former cabinet misused the CMDRF.
Sasikumar, in his complaint said the state cabinet had illegally transferred funds from the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF) to the families of NCP leader Uzhavur Vijayan, former Chengannur MLA K K Ramachandran Nair, and Praveen, the escort driver of the CPI-M state secretary who died in an accident while on duty.
He also said that Uzhavur Vijayan’s family was given Rs 25 lakh and the kin of Praveen, driver of late CPI-M leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan was granted Rs 20 lakh. He also said that Ramachandran Nair’s loan liability of Rs 9 lakh was also given from the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF)
The High Court will again hear the petition on 7 June 2023.
Meanwhile, a full bench of the Lokayukta will be hearing the case on 6 June.