Panel finds 'nepotism' in postings of VS' son

Thiruvananthapuram: The Joint Legislature panel, that probed allegations against Opposition Leader V S Achuthanandan's son, has found there was "serious misuse of power, favouritism and gross irregularities" in his appointment to key posts in the state HRD Institute when the CPI-M veteran was the Chief Minister.

The report, tabled in the Assembly today, found Achuthanandan and the then Education Minister M A Baby had bent rules to get postings for V A Arun Kumar as IHRD Joint Director, Additional Director and later as ICT Academy Director.

The tabling of the report, drawn up by the panel chaired by Congress MLA V D Satheesan, was marred with Opposition LDF members demanding that their dissent note be appended to the report which they said was 'unilateral.'

However, quoting rules of procedure, the ruling benches argued rules and precedents clearly showed any dissenting note should not be part of the final report of legislature committees.

The panel chairman V D Satheesan said the rules stipulated that a legislature committee was to been seen as an entity and if there was any dissent, a decision should be taken through voting and the exercise was completed at a committee meeting before the finalisation of draft.

Speaker G Karthikeyan then ruled that the decision of the panel chairman not to append the dissent note with the report was "justifiable and in accordance with precedents" in the assembly. If the dissent note was allowed to be added to the report, it would weaken the impact of the findings, he said.

The Speaker, however, allowed the four Opposition members in the panel to table their note separately in the House.

On the charge that the report's findings were leaked to the press before tabling it in the assembly, he ruled it would amount to breach of privilege and contempt of the House.