Thiruvananthapuram: Controversial higher education minister K T Jaleel, who had to resign after the Lokayukta found him guilty of nepotism and breach of his oath of office, suffered another setback when the Kerala High Court even refused to entertain his writ petition challenging the watchdog’s order.
The high court decision is also a setback for the government, which had argued that the Lokayukta had not followed the due process in indicting Jaleel. The court found that there was nothing wrong with the Lokayukta’s order.
Finding Jaleel guilty of favouritism in the appointment of his relative to the post of general manager in the Minorities Financial Development Corporation, the watchdog had asked chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan to sack the minister.
The minister had changed the qualifications for the post so that his relative was eligible to apply and pursued the case until he was appointed despite opposition from the top officials of the corporation.
Jaleel and his CPI-M party were, however, reluctant to comply, saying that Lokayukta was a lower court and its decisions were liable to be challenged in the higher courts. Jaleel insisted that he did not commit any wrong.
The minister was forced to resign when the judge hearing his writ petition indicated that the court was not inclined to grant his prayer. In fact, the court asked his counsel whether the minister was still continuing in office.
Even when he resigned, the minister insisted that he was doing so on moral grounds and not because he had committed any offence. But Tuesday’s court decision confirms that he had to necessarily quit because he was found guilty.
The chief minister, who had signed the note in which Jaleel had proposed the change in qualifications, kept defending the minister when his misdeeds were raised by the opposition. But with pressure mounting and a section of the party itself disowning the minister’s conduct, Pinarayi Vijayan had no option but to call for the resignation.
Youth League general secretary P K Firoz, who was the first complainant against Jaleel, and pursued the case to its logical conclusion, claimed that if the opposition UDF came to power, it would initiate prosecution against Pinarayi Vijayan for his complicity in the crime.
Jaleel had declared in the state assembly that if the charges against him were proved, he would end his public life. Firoz challenged him to keep his word, now that the high court has found him guilty.