Kerala HC upholds Lok Ayutka order against Jaleel

It dismisses petition from former Minister as ‘without any merit’

A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Tuesday dismissed a writ petition filed by K.T. Jaleel, former Minister for Higher Education and Minority Welfare, challenging the Lok Ayukta’s order finding him guilty of abuse of power and nepotism in appointing his relative K.T. Adeeb to the post of general manager, Kerala State Minorities Finance Development Corporation, on deputation from a private bank.

Dismissing the petition, the Bench comprising Justice P.B. Suresh Kumar and Justice K. Babu observed that the Lok Ayukta was acting within the scope of its powers while arriving at its conclusion. The petitioner had not made out any ground for interference in the final opinion formulated by the Lok Ayukta .The writ petition, in the circumstances, was “without any merit and the same is accordingly dismissed in limine.”

Vigilant media

The court also observed that in spite of a vigilant media, it was a fact that abuse of public resources and position in public life for private gain were rampant in our State. Abuse of public resources or position in public life for private gain would certainly amount to corruption. The scope of corruption would increase when the control on the public administrators was weak.

The Bench pointed out that the contention of the petitioner that there was no investigation into the complaint by the Lok Ayukta was liable to be rejected.

The court noted that investigation contemplated under the Kerala Lok Ayukta Act, 1999 was only a formal inquiry to discover the truth of the allegation. The procedure for conducting the investigation in a given case was a matter for the Lok Ayukta or Upa Lok Ayukta, as the case may be, to decided having regard to the circumstances of the case. In fact, the materials indicated that the Lok Ayukta had afforded all the parties, including the petitioner, an opportunity to make oral submissions in this case.

The court added that materials also indicated that it was based on the facts disclosed in the written statements filed by the State government as also the petitioner and based on the facts disclosed in the files produced by the government that the factual conclusions in the report under Section 12(3) of the Act was arrived at.

Argument misconceived

The argument of the petitioner that the Lok Ayukta should have afforded the petitioner an opportunity to adduce evidence and should have collected additional materials making use of the mechanism provided under Section 16(3) of the Act was misconceived. Nor the petitioner had sought to adduce evidence.

The Lok Ayukta’s order came on a complaint alleging that K.T. Adeeb, cousin of the former Minister, was illegally appointed as general manager of the corporation on a deputation. The Lok Ayukta had found that that the Minister’s decision to change the qualification for the post of general manager by adding BTech with PGDBA as qualification for the post was to make his second cousin eligible for the post. The earlier qualification was graduation with MBA or CS/CA/ICWAI. As result, the Lok Ayukta had made a declaration that the petitioner was not entitled to continue as a Minister.

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