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Congress leader Chennithala moves Kerala HC challenging amended Lok Ayukta Act

Kochi, May 24: Veteran Congress legislator Ramesh Chennithala has moved the Kerala High Court, challenging the constitutional validity of the recent amendments made to the Kerala Lok Ayukta (Amendment) Act, 2022, which became law after the President gave assent to it earlier this year.

The plea will be heard on Monday by a division bench headed by Chief Justice A.J. Desai.

The decision of the Pinarayi Vijayan-led state government to amend the act attracted much criticism both inside and outside the Assembly and after the amendment was passed, Governor Arif Mohammed Khan kept it pending. However, after the Vijayan government put pressure, he sent it to the President, who gave assent.

Chennithala, in his plea, said that before the amendment, the competent authority for complaints against the Chief Minister, a Member of the state Legislature, or office bearer of a political party was the Governor but after the amendment to Section 2 of the Act, the competent authority for a Minister or Secretary is the Chief Minister.

The competent authority for a member of the state legislature is now the Speaker.

He also objected to the change in the eligibility of the Lok Ayukta from being a former judge of the Supreme Court or Chief Justice of a state high court to just a former high court judge.

“The amendment now introduced, the contingency of appointing a retired judge of the High Court, who had only a shorter tenure and who held the office as a judge of the High Court with perceived political philosophy cannot be avoided and thereby questioning the very significance of the office of the Lok Ayukta. Hence the provision for appointing retired judge as Lok Ayukta, other than retired chief Justice of the High Court is in fact and in reality, downgrading the office of the Lok Ayukta System,” his plea said.

The Congress leader also argued that the amendments are also against the independence of the judiciary

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