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Lok Ayukta sends CMDRF misuse petition to full bench for review

In 2019, the Lok Ayukta admitted a petition against the misuse of the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF) and referred the issue to the full bench for consideration due to a difference of opinion between the two-member bench. This decision was made even after the arguments were concluded and the verdict was adjourned. The previous verdict of the then Lok Ayukta, Justice Pius Kuriakose, also had a difference of opinion between him and the Upa Lok Ayukta, Justice A.K. Basheer. Justice Kuriakose referred the case to the full bench and asked the Lok Ayukta Registry to bring it for immediate consideration on an emergency basis.

In September 2018, R.S. Sasikumar submitted the complaint against the CMDRF. The Lok Ayukta summoned the Chief Secretary to produce the original records of the Cabinet decision. The Director-General of Prosecution, Manjeri Sreedharan Nair, argued for the Chief Secretary that the Chief Minister had the power to sanction money from the relief fund, and the petition should be rejected.

The full bench, which heard the arguments in 2019, included the Upa Lok Ayukta, K.P. Balachandran. While two members took the stand that the Lok Ayukta could examine the case, one member said that decisions taken by the Cabinet would not come under the jurisdiction of the Lok Ayukta. The recent verdict, delivered by the current Lok Ayukta, Justice Cyriac Joseph, did not explain the difference of opinion between him and the Upa Lok Ayukta, Justice Harun al Rashid, but referred the issue to the full bench.

The complainant, R.S. Sasikumar, expressed dissatisfaction with the latest decision and said that he would move the Division Bench of the High Court. The judgment did not clarify the difference of opinion, but Sasikumar claimed that the difference was on whether the Lok Ayukta could legally examine the decision taken by the Cabinet to sanction funds from the CMDRF.


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