THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A day after Law Minister AK Balan announced that the LDF government had spent Rs 34 lakh to keep CBI away in the Shuhaib murder case, he found himself in a spot on Thursday after major discrepancies were found in the data shared by him in the assembly and that provided by the law department to an RTI query.
Grabbing the chance, the Congress is all set to seek breach of privilege action against him.
Major discrepancies have come up in responses — in the Assembly and under RTI — in connection with the Pinarayi Vijayan government hiring advocates from outside to oppose a CBI probe into the murder of Youth Congress leader Shuhaib by alleged CPM workers in Kannur.
While the minister put the figure at Rs 34 lakh, as per the RTI info, it comes to around Rs 86 lakh.
On October 30, Congress MLA Sunny Joseph sought to know the case for which the Left government had paid the highest amount as a legal fee to an advocate from outside, to which Law Minister Balan responded, saying it was on writ appeal number 628/18.
It pertains to the government bringing two advocates from outside — Vijay Hansaria and Amarendra Sharan — to oppose CBI investigation in the Shuhaib murder case.
The government had hired these advocates to oppose a petition filed by Shuhaib’s father before the High Court seeking a CBI probe. As per the reply, the government-sanctioned Rs 34 lakh in the case.
While Hansaria was given Rs 12.20 lakh, an amount of Rs 22 lakh sanctioned for Amarendra Sharan is yet to be handed over.
Govt paid highest fee in solar case
Curiously, the law minister’s reply in the House is far from true, going by the information given by the law department to an RTI query by MK Haridas of NGO ‘The Proper Channel’ on September 20.
As per the reply, Amarendra Sharan was paid Rs 22 lakh while Vijay Hansaria was given `64.40 lakh.
Besides, as per the RTI info, the highest legal fee paid by the Pinarayi government was in the solar scam case -- Rs 1.20 crore in WP (C) 40775/17 -- not in the Shuhaib murder case.
The government brought senior Supreme Court advocate Ranjith Kumar to oppose the petition by former chief minister Oommen Chandy, seeking to cancel the Solar Commission report.
Sunny Joseph said he would move a breach of privilege motion in the House.
“The government is not keen to provide the information due to obvious political reasons. The government’s reluctance was evident from the fact that only the case number was provided in the assembly. Now it has come out that the information is not correct as per an RTI reply. I will soon move a breach of privilege motion,” said the Peravoor legislator.