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‘Scam’ in disaster relief fund: Kerala Lokayukta

The Kerala Lokayukta has admitted that a complaint alleging misuse of Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF) issued a notice to Pinarayi Vijayan and the other state ministers on it. A full bench comprising Lokayukta Justice Pius C. Kuriakose, and Upa-lokayuktas Justices K.P. Balachandran and A.K. Basheer on Tuesday decided to admit a complaint filed by R.S. Sashi Kumar.

The bench was constituted after there was a difference of opinion among the Lokayukta and one of the Upa-lokayuktas regarding the jurisdiction of the agency to probe disbursement of assistance from CMDRF, an official statement said.

The bench decided that the complaint was maintainable before the Lokayukta and ordered notice to the respondents – Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and other state ministers.

While admitting the complaint, the Lokayukta clarified in the order that he had not found any of the party to be guilty of the allegations levelled against them. He said that it was only found that there was warrant for admitting the complaint and conducting an investigation whether anybody is guilty or whether any declaration under relevant section of the law is liable to be issued in respect of any of the respondents.

Justice K.P. Balachandran was of the view that the complaint was liable to be inquired into and the Kerala Lokayukta cannot avoid conducting a probe while accepting the contention that it was a cabinet decision and all the decisions of the government were liable to be inquired into. However, Justice A.K. Basheer, who dissented with the majority decision, was of the opinion that the chief minister, on his own, had wide discretionary powers to allot funds to deserving families. The actions assailed were not taken by the chief minister alone but by the entire Cabinet and those administrative decisions taken by the state Cabinet cannot be subjected to judicial scrutiny.

The complaint alleged “favouritism” in sanctioning financial aid from the fund to the NCP leader late Uzhavoor Vijayan, former CPI(M) MLA late K.K. Ramachandran Nair and to the family of Praveen, a civil police officer who died in an accident while undertaking escort duty for ruling CPI(M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan. The complainant sought disqualification of the chief minister and the other ministers for misusing the fund. The case has been posted for a detailed hearing on February 15, the statement said.

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