In a setback to the CPI(M)-led LDF government in Kerala, the State Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau is today understood to have decided to order a preliminary probe into certain controversial appointments of relatives of Industries Minister E P Jayarajan in key posts in state PSUs.
However, there is no official word on the decision of the bureau.
Meanwhile, the Special Court (Vigilance) directed the bureau to file its reply by tomorrow on a complaint with regard to the alleged appointments.
Against the backdrop of opposition Congress and BJP targeting it on the issue, the four-month old LDF government has decided to bring in a law to prevent any nepotism in appointmentsin key positions in public sector units (PSUs).
The cabinet also entrusted Chief Secretary S M Vijayanand with the task to examine the various complaints with regard to any appointments which have become controversial.
"This is to prevent nepotism in appointments," a statement quoting Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said.
The complaint in the Special Vigilance court had sought filing of FIR and registration of case against Jayarajan, who had allegedly appointed some relatives to key posts in state PSUs.
When the case came up today, the court directed the Vigilance bureau to file a reply on the petition by tomorrow.
According to sources, preliminary inquiry was to find out whether there was any substance in the complaints to register a case and order further probe.
The complaint filed in the Vigilance court contended that nepotism amounted to corruption and sought registration of a case under Prevention of Corruption Act.
Besides the complaint in the court, three other petitions, including that of Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala and BJP leader V Muraleedharan seeking filing of FIR and registering a case against Jayarajan, are pending before Vigilance Director Jacob Thomas.
Against this backdrop, Thomas met Chief Minister Vijayan this morning and held discussions.
Vijayan also met party secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan this evening ahead of the party state committee to be held tomorrow which may discuss the appointment issue.
Meanwhile, Jayarajan has offered to put in his papers if the party demands, party sources said.
The cabinet also decided that Vigilance clearance would be made mandatory for appointment on posts like Managing Director and General Manager in state PSUs. Besides this, a committee of national-level experts will henceforth make appointments for senior posts in PSUs in the state, the statement said. The government is facing embarrassment after the row over alleged appointments broke out with opposition Congress and BJP seeking Jayarajan's resignation. The industry minister had allegedly appointed P K Sudheer, his nephew and son of Kannur MP P K Sreemathi as Managing Director of Kerala State Industrial Enterprises.
Later, the order was reportedly quashed by the government as opposition Congress led UDF and BJP attacked it on the issue. Another relative of Jayarajan, Deepthi Nishad, daughter-in-law of his brother, who was allegedly appointed General Manager of of Kerala Clay and Ceramics Products Ltd at Kannur, resigned yesterday. Continuing its attack on the LDF government, Congress said its demand was for the resignation of Jayarajan. KPCC president V M Sudheeran said his party wanted nothing short of Jayarajan's resignation. Referring to the steps taken by government for ensuring fair appointments, he said "face saving formula" was not acceptable to Congress.