At least 15 former councillors who are re-contesting the upcoming civic polls in Kochi were forced to cough up a sum of close to Rs 60,000 each in order to obtain the Non-Liability Certificate essential to maintain the validity of their candidature.
The prominent names among them include former Kochi Mayor C.M. Dinesh Mani, Deputy Mayor C.K. Manisankar, T.J. Vinod, K.J. Basil and A.B. Sabu, among others.
The amount in question is the premium amount of an accident insurance scheme launched by the city corporation in 1995. The councillors had to clear all dues before they could contest again in the elections after the notification was issued to the local bodies.
The councillors though have pointed out to the CM that since the insurer, in this case Oriental Insurance Company, was a public sector undertaking, it was not justified to collect the amount from them.
As the model code of conduct was in place, a formal order to the Local Self Government Department to the effect that the money should not be collected from the councillors, could not be put into effect.
As per the directives of The State Legislative Committee report and the Kerala Local Fund Accounts committee, the Kochi Corporation secretary issued a notice specifying that the premium amount be shared equally between the councillors concerned.
The Kochi Corporation spent Rs 102,000,00 as premium for the project between 1996 and 2003 of which the audit committee only approved an amount of Rs 700,000 according to David Parambithraa, the candidate from Ravipuram.