After facing flak on the decision by its two-member bench to refer the verdict in a case of alleged misuse of Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF) by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to a larger bench, there were indications on Monday that the full bench (three members) of the Kerala Lok Ayukta will start proceedings from April 12.
The Congress and the BJP on Friday questioned the credibility of the Kerala Lokayukta, which referred the case to a larger bench.
It was after an year that the two-member bench of the Lokayukta, that had completed all its hearings in the case, gave its verdict on last Friday and this long delay came under fire.
It was also noted that had the petitioner not approached the Kerala High Court seeking its intervention, maybe the verdict could have been even more delayed.
Now all eyes are on April 12 and according to sources in the know of things, the full bench is likely to hear the case from the start and will also look into the issue if the Lokayukta is competent enough to take up the case involving a decision of the state cabinet.
Leader of Opposition V.D. Satheesan has already pointed out that the decision to refer to the full bench is nothing but questioning the credibility of the Lokayukta institution as the Lokayukta in 2019 had made it clear that the petition is valid and now again it is going to be sent to a full bench. "It is strange," he said.
Public activist R.S. Sasikumar had filed the case in 2018, alleging misuse of the funds in the CMDRF.
He had alleged that the money was given to those who were not eligible for the relief, including the family of a deceased CPI-M legislator, the family of a top leader from a Left ally who passed away, and also to a Kerala Police officer who died when his vehicle met with an accident while accompanying then top CPI-M leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan.
The plea to the anti-corruption ombudsman was filed by Sasikumar in September 2018 and the hearing ended on March 18, 2022. Since then till last Friday, the verdict was kept pending.
All this comes at a time when Governor Arif Mohammed Khan continues to sit on the Bill that tweaked the powers of the Kerala Lokayukta.