Kerala govt gets a breather from HC in nepotism row2 min read . Updated: 24 Aug 2017, 10:59 PM IST
The Kerala high court expunges a series of adverse remarks made against health minister K.K. Shylaja in an earlier order, which had kicked off opposition demands for her resignation
Bengaluru: Kerala’s ruling Left Front got a breather on Thursday as the state high court expunged a series of adverse remarks made against health minister K.K. Shylaja in an earlier order, which had kicked off opposition demands for her resignation.
Last Thursday, while quashing some of the recent appointments made to the child welfare panel, which comes under the minister, the court had raised concerns over the whole process.
It verbally criticized the minister, and asked why she had extended the deadline for application for the vacant posts if not to appoint members of her choice, one of whom, police say, was convicted in a criminal case and has three more pending trials.
With the opposition continuously raising the issue in the assembly since Monday, the government had appealed for the remarks to be struck down, saying it was made in a case the minister was not party to, which meant her version was not heard.
The government’s worries, though, many not be over yet. Public ombudsman, the Lokayukta, on Thursday opened a preliminary enquiry into whether the nepotism allegations against Shylaja would stand, based on a complaint by the opposition leader in the house, the Congress party’s Ramesh Chennithala. The minister has denied any wrong-doing.
Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan made a strong defence of his colleague. Replying to an adjournment motion sought by the opposition, he said the opposition is running out of issues to criticise the government and is bringing up “silly matters".
The time extension in the appointment process was given so as to make it possible for more people to apply for the job, as recommended by the social justice department, and it is not irregular by any means, he said.
There is a precedence for making such extensions and appointments, including in the previous government when the opposition was in power, Vijayan said.
The high court made only some casual remarks against the minister, that too without hearing her version of the events, Vijayan said.
The only problem the court observed was that the minister had not disclosed the reason for giving the extension, but that was unnecessary because her department had already made it clear in the file, he added. The court, otherwise, specifically said there is nothing on record to indicate that the whole process was vitiated in any manner, said Vijayan.
However, the opposition stormed the house bearing placards and shouting slogans demanding the minister’s resignation.
After the reply of the chief minister, the speaker refused to grant leave for the motion and the opposition walked out in protest. Some of the opposition activists held protest marches that turned rough in two districts, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram, regional media reported.
-Press Trust of India contributed to this story.