VERDiCTUM NEWS DESK
Kerala High Court has sought a reply from the state government in a Writ Petition filed by D. Francis from Kanyakumari seeking action against the Chief Minister of Kerala for allegedly using public funds for foreign travel for private purposes. The petitioner had alleged that CM Pinarayi Vijayan had travelled to UAE in between 21st and 24th December, 2016 showing that the purpose of the visit was to inaugurate a school building and to attend various meetings arranged by organisations of Keralites. An amount of Rs.93,295 was reimbursed from the public fund at his instance for the same.
Similarly, between 5thand 17th July, 2018 Pinarayi Vijayan had visited New York, Philadelphia and Chicago in the United States, travelling through Dubai. According to the petitioner, the flight charge for the trip alone was Rs. 3,82,807. The State Government has informed the petitioner that a part of the trip of Pinarayi Vijayan to the United States i.e. from 9th to 17th July was for personal purposes. Petitioner claims that splitting of the visit as partly official and party personal is absurd and that the entire trip was personal.
Petitioner has obtained information under the RTI that CM Pinarayi Vijayan had stayed in the Valley Forge (King of Prussia), Marriott Residence Inn and Peninsula Chicago, which are very costly hotels according to the petitioner.
Petitioner claims that as per official correspondence produced by him, Pinarayi Vijayan extended his official trip to “visit his friends, relatives as well as places of interest”. According to the petitioner, though the state claimed that CM’s official visit to the United States was extended mid-trip, the tickets were booked from the very beginning for the extended period. According to the petitioner, the claim of the mid-trip extension was only to mislead authorities and claim wrongful reimbursement.
Petitioner claims that his requests to the Chief Minister’s Office seeking details regarding the expenses incurred and as to who bore the expenses have been refused. The petitioner has sought a vigilance investigation into the source of the funds expended for trips, which according to him, did not involve any public purpose or interest. The matter has been posted to 30th April and the Public Prosecutor has been directed by the High Court to get necessary instructions on the matter by then.