Kerala Higher Education Minister and Minority Welfare KT Jaleel on Tuesday resigned from the Pinarayi Vijayan Cabinet days after the state Lokayukta found him guilty of nepotism, reported The Hindu.
In a Facebook post, Jaleel said he was the victim of the “right-wing” media witch-hunt. “Political opponents had prompted the persecution,” he wrote.
On April 9, the Lokayukta had said that Jaleel “misused” his powers to appoint a family member in Kerala State Minorities Development Finance Corporation, reported PTI. It said that Jaleel’s action amounted to “abuse of power, favouritism, nepotism and violation of oath of office”.
“He should not continue as a member of the Council of Minister,” the anti-corruption body said in its order.
The Lokayukta had forwarded its report in the case to Vijayan and asked him to take appropriate action. The verdict came on a complaint filed by a Muslim Youth League leader in November 2018. The complaint had alleged that a cousin of Jaleel, identified as Adeeb, was appointed as the general manager in the state minority development body.
Jaleel had moved the Kerala High Court on Monday against the order. He also met Communist Party of India (Marxist) leaders. The party leaders had backed his decision to move the High Court. But they were also reportedly of the view that Jaleel should resign without waiting for the High Court’s decision, according to The Hindu.
CPI(M) acting state secretary A Vijayaraghavan welcomed Jaleel’s decision, saying said he upheld the best traditions of the Left Democratic Front. Vijayaraghavan said that former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, a Congress leader, had clung to power despite several adverse opinions from the Lokayukta. He added United Democratic Front government’s Excise Minister K Babu had also ignored the findings of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Court.
Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said Jaleel had no other recourse but to resign. “There was nothing ethical in his action,” he said. “It smacked of desperation and helplessness.”
Kerala HC refuses to stay Lokayukta report on KT Jaleel
Meanwhile, the Kerala High Court refused to stay the Lokayukta report charging Jaleel of nepotism, reported Live Law. Jaleel resigned from his post while the hearing was underway.
The CPI(M) had moved the High Court challenging the legality of the Lokayukta report. The High Court said it would pronounce the verdict in the matter after a hearing.
During the hearing, advocate PC Sasidharan, representing Jaleel, contended that Lokayukta’s report was issued without following the procedure mentioned in the Kerala Lok Ayukta Act. He said that no investigation as contemplated under the Act was conducted. State Attorney KV Sohan, representing the Kerala government, also made similar arguments.
Senior Advocate George Poonthottam, representing the complainant Muhammad Shafi, said that there was no specific procedure contemplated under the Act for conducting an investigation. He argued that the Lokayukta proceeded after it found that the complaint was satisfactory to initiate proceedings. Poonthottam said that Lokayukta’s order was passed after perusing all the documents related to the matter.