Crucial Lok Ayukta verdict in case against Pinarayi Vijayan, previous ministers today

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Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala Lok Ayukta will pronounce the verdict in the plea against chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his 18 cabinet members of the previous ministry over alleged violation of the allocation of Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF) on Friday.

RS Sasikumar, the complainant, had approached the Kerala High Court alleging delay in delivering the verdict despite completing the hearing. The court directed the petitioner to approach the Lok Ayukta instead. Meanwhile, the Lok Ayukta listed the case for verdict on Friday.

The plea was submitted to the anti-corruption ombudsman in September 2018 and the hearing concluded on March 18, 2022. It was presided over by Lok Ayukta Cyriac Joseph and Harun Al Rashid. The petition alleged nepotism and discrepancies in the allocation of Rs 25 lakh to the late NCP leader Uzhavoor Vijayan's family, Rs 20 lakh to Praveen's family, who was the deceased gunman of Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, and the payment of personal debts owed by former MLA KK Ramachandran Nair.

It is worth noting that although the Assembly has passed a bill to limit the Lok Ayukta's powers, it is yet to receive the governor's approval. Currently, the ombudsman has the authority to dismiss ministers, including chief minister. However, the bill would modify this provision and give the government and governor the final decision in such adverse verdicts. In April 2021, the Lok Ayukta had ordered MLA KT Jaleel to resign as minister on nepotism charges.

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