Updated: January 27, 2022 3:38:46 am
CPI, the second largest partner in the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in Kerala, Wednesday came out against the ordinance to amend the Kerala Lokayukta Act in a bid to clip the wings of the anti-corruption ombudsman.
Last week, the state cabinet had recommended the Governor to issue the ordinance to amend the Kerala Lokayukta Act, 1999. The amendment is aimed at giving powers to the government to “either accept or reject the verdict of the Lokayukta, after giving an opportunity of being heard”.
A day after, the decision triggered widespread protest and the Opposition Congress petitioned Governor Arif Mohammed Khan to abstain from giving assent to the ordinance. CPI state secretary Kanam Rajendran said no political consultation was held in the LDF on the move to bring in an ordinance for the amendment.
Expressing CPI’s disapproval of the ordinance, Rajendran said, “People are not convinced about the urgency behind the ordinance. The government could have introduced a Bill for the proposed amendment in the Assembly session, slated for next month. If a Bill was introduced in the Assembly for the purpose of amendment, everyone would have got an opportunity to air their opinion. The ordinance has denied that opportunity,” he said.
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CPI has four ministers in the LDF government and the cabinet meeting, which decided on the controversial ordinance, was attended by CPI ministers also.
The government’s move to reduce the verdict of the anti-corruption body to mere advisory or recommendary in nature has created a furore in Kerala, where CPI(M) has come to power promising a corruption-free regime.
Meanwhile, the Opposition has decided to step up pressure on the Governor to keep away from giving consent to the ordinance. A delegation led by Opposition Leader V D Satheesan will meet the Governor Thursday.
Satheesan told the media in Kochi that CPI(M) has decided to amend the Lokayukta Act fearing a setback from the anti-corruption body in the cases pending against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Higher Education Minister R Bindu. “CPI(M) is now afraid of the anti-corruption body after its verdict last year had led to the resignation of then minister K T Jaleel. In 2019, Vijayan, in an article, had praised the Lokayukta. Now, when he is facing a case in the Lokayukta, he wants to take away its powers to protect himself,” Satheesan said.
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