Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala higher education minister K T Jaleel has been found guilty by Lokayukta for favouritism in the appointment of his relative as general manager of Minorities Financial Development Corporation and asked the chief minister to take action against him.
Lokayukta found that the minister abused his official position to get his relative appointed to the post, although the man did not have the required qualifications. By doing this, the minister has violated his oath of office and allegiance to the Constitution and as such he must be dismissed from the ministry, the division bench of the Lokayukta said in its verdict.
The Lokayukta verdict has far-reaching implications as it has recommended action despite the fact that the minister’s relative had resigned his new position and returned to his previous post as the senior manager in the regional office of the South Indian Bank in the wake of the controversy.
Lokayukta, however, did not find enough ground to drop the proceedings against the minister.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala asked Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who is currently undergoing treatment for his Covid infection, to sack K T Jaleel, if he has any sense of morality.
The minister, who has faced several allegations of favouritism, including in the controversial university mark moderation case, has not reacted to the Lokayukta verdict. He normally responds to criticism through his Facebook posts.
K T Jaleel’s name has repeatedly figured in the gold smuggling case and is facing enquiry by Customs and other central agencies for alleged smuggling of gold in boxes of dates meant for the UAE consulate. He has been quizzed a number of times, including on a couple of occasions when he went to the Kochi office of Customs giving the slip to the media.
The allegation of favouritism by the minister in the appointment of his relative was first raised by Youth League general secretary P K Firoz, who has been pursuing K T Jaleel in all his alleged misdeeds.
Firoz described the Lok Ayukta decision as the triumph of truth and the success of his legal fight against the minister. Jaleel has been dismissing all his allegations as hollow and without any substance.
He demanded that the minister apologise to the people for his lies and return all the money he has received as salary and perks from the day the allegation was first raised.