As the clamour for Kerala Higher Education minister KT Jaleel's resignation continued over the Lok Ayukta's adverse report that he had abused his position to favour a relative for a job, State Law minister AK Balan on Saturday came out in support, hinting he will not step down immediately. Pointing out that Jaleel has many legal options, he said the minister can appeal against the Lok Ayukta verdict and get it stayed. Minister Jaleel said that he will approach the High Court.
"The Chief Minister has three monthsâ€™ time to act on the report. Those seeking his immediate resignation should realise that there is no such precedence in the state," Minister Balan told reporters at Palakkad.
"Has anyone ever resigned just because a lower court has said something?â€ť he asked. In Kerala there is no precedence of resignation based on a lower court verdict.
â€śKT Adeeb, the relative of Jaleel, was appointed on deputation...We only need to verify if the person was eligible or not. No law states that a relative cannot be appointed," Minister Balan said.
He alleged that there were occasions in the past when former ministers like Manjulamkuzhi Ali and KM Mani had appointed their close relatives on deputation.
On Saturday KT Jaleel said that once he got the details of the Lok Ayukta verdict he will take appropriate legal action.
He posted on his Facebook page that for this very same case, when it came before the High Court earlier, he was given a clean chit and when a petition was given to the then Kerala Governor P Sathasaivam - a retired Chief Justice of India - he too had exonerated him. But, now with the fresh directive from the Lok Ayukta, he has decided to file a petition before the High Court on Monday and the vacation bench of the court will look into the matter on Tuesday.
A division bench of the Kerala Lok Ayukta submitted a report to the Chief Minister on Friday, saying that Jaleel had abused his position as a public servant to obtain a favour for his relative, and should not continue as a minister. The bench had held that the charge of abuse of power, favouritism and nepotism against the minister was proved.
CPI(M) Secretary in charge A Vijayaraghavan said the available secretariat met and discussed the issue on Saturday morning. "Legal options will be considered. It is quite normal for the opposition to keep on asking for Jaleel's resignation," he said.
Union Minister V Muraleedharan said that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan should demand the resignation of Jaleel. "Why is the CM scared of Jaleel?" he asked, while Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala demanded that the CM seek Jaleel's resignation or he be thrown out if he refuses.
The Lok Ayukta verdict was on a complaint filed by a Muslim Youth League leader in November 2018, alleging that Adeeb, a cousin of Jaleel, was appointed general manager in the Kerala State Minorities Development Finance Corporation, flouting rules. Adeeb was the manager of a private bank when the appointment was made.