PIL challenging appointment of ministers' personal staff, their pension: HC seeks Kerala govt stand

Kerala High Court

Koch: The Kerala High Court on Thursday sought response of the state government on a PIL challenging the rules for appointment of personal staff of ministers, leader of opposition in the assembly and chief whip as well as the grant of pension and family pension to such employees.

A bench of Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly issued notice to the Kerala government and sought its stand on the plea by the Chairman and Managing Director of Mennen Financial Services Ltd, Dinesh Menon, who has also opposed the allotment of government quarters to the personal staff.

Menon, in his plea filed through advocates V Sethunath, Manoranjan V R and Harikumar K, has claimed that the state government was spending at least Rs 80 crore per annum on the pension of such staff besides other benefits which would increase this amount by another Rs 10 crore.

In addition to that, the government was also spending at least Rs 40 crore every year on salaries and travel fares of the personal staff, his plea has also claimed.

Menon has contended that neither the Centre nor any of the other states in country were giving pension and family pension to personal staff and only Kerala was doing this.

"While the state is struggling financially, 362 personal staff were directly appointed by 21 ministers and the chief whip of the state government. The minimum amount required to pay them as salary is about Rs 1.12 crore per month.

"A total of 1,223 individuals, who served as former personal staff in Kerala, are currently receiving pension from the state," the plea said and added that the number would go up to 1,500 once personal staff in the last ministry were also included.

It also said that while a minimum of 10 years service is required under the Kerala Service Rules (KSR) for a government servant to be eligible for pension, the personal staff get this benefit on completing two years of service.

"So, this is clear discrimination and violative of Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India. The attitude of the State of Kerala is arbitrary, against public interest and irrational," the plea has claimed.

Menon moved the high court in the wake of Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan raising the issue of personal staff of ministers being eligible for pension after two years of service.

The Governor had termed the practice of giving pension to personal staff of ministers just after completing two years as a “gross violation and abuse of authority” and “misuse and abuse of money of people of Kerala”.

Khan had raised the issue after a senior bureaucrat had written a letter on behalf of the state government to the Raj Bhavan citing the violation of prevailing conventions in the appointment of former BJP leader Hari S Kartha as Additional Personal Assistant to the Governor. PTI

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