Plea in Kerala HC against Lokayukta ordinance of state govt


Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan | Photo: Mathrubhumi

Kochi/Thiruvananthapuram: A plea was on Wednesday moved in the Kerala High Court challenging the constitutional validity of the recent Kerala Lokayukta (Amendment) Ordinance, which has received the Governor's assent, even as Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the decision was taken based on legal advise that the system needed a change.

The petition, which was moved earlier in the day, contended that through enactment of the ordinance, the executive has become the appellate authority over the orders or declarations passed by the Lokayukta.

According to the ordinance, notified in the gazette on Tuesday, the Governor, Chief Minister or the state government would be the competent authority and he or it may either accept or reject the declaration by the Lokayukta, after giving an opportunity of being heard.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference in Thiruvananthapuram, the CM said that ordinarily there is a distinction between the judiciary and systems created by the legislature, but the same was lacking under the Lokayukta Act and therefore, such a move was necessitated.

He said that the role of judiciary should be entrusted to the courts and the decision to enact the ordinance was based on legal advise that a change was required.

In the plea filed in the high court by R S Sasikumar, a social worker, the contention is that the executive was "encroaching" into the domain of the judiciary and quasi judicial bodies which was a contravention of the doctrine of separation of powers emphasized in the constitution of India.

The petition, filed through advocates George Poonthottam, Arun Chandran and Nisha George, seeks a declaration that the ordinance is invalid and violative of the Constitution.

It is listed for hearing before a bench of Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly on Thursday.

It alleges that the ordinance will grant protection to "delinquent" public servants in the future, as the government will have the power to accept or reject the Lokayukta's declaration, and "the public will be helpless".

The petition also said that Sasikumar has moved a plea in the Kerala Lokayukta alleging nepotism, favouritism and abuse of power by the Chief Minister and the members of the State Cabinet while taking decisions and favouring people based on political consideration while disbursing amounts from the Chief Minister's Relief fund.

"The complaint filed by the petitioner is presently at the final stage of hearing. The petitioner has reason to believe that the progress of the case is one of the reasons which has resulted in bringing out the amendment to Kerala Lokayukta Act after a gap of 22 years of the enactment on the ground that section 14 of the said Act is unconstitutional without a challenge or declaration by a constitutional court," the plea contended.

PTI

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