Achuthanandan appears before panel over son's appointment

Achuthanandan appears before panel over son's appointment

Leader of Opposition in the Kerala assembly V.S. Achuthanandan Tuesday appeared before a house committee probing if rules were flouted to appoint his son V.A. Arunkumar as a state-run IT institute's director when the veteran marxist was the chief minister.

A committee member told IANS that Achuthanandan at one point of time during the sitting said the panel was going beyond its brief. 

"He was there for half an hour and said that he never appointed his son as the director," the committee member said, declining to be named. 

"He insisted that the committee need not look into other incidents in the Institute of Human Resources Development (IHRD) where his son works as additional director," the member added.Speaker G. Karthikeyan, on the last day of the first full-fledged sitting of the 13th Kerala assembly last year, set up the committee headed by Congress leader V.D. Sateeshan.

The panel includes four legislators each from the opposition and treasury benches.The matter was raised in the assembly July 12 when Congress legislator P.C. Vishnunath presented documents that allegedly showed that rules were violated during Achuthanandan's tenure to appoint his son as ICT Academy director in February last year.

Achuthanandan then denied it on the floor of the house and asked for an inquiry by an assembly committee.

"The then education minister M.A. Baby also appeared before us today (Tuesday). He said the IHRD has every right to make the appointment," said the committee member.

The member quoted Baby as saying that since Arunkumar was a very good officer, based on IHRD recommendations, he appointed him as the ICT director. 

The panel will meet again Feb 24 to finalise the report which will be submitted to the speaker."Our brief was very clear and we were asked to look into irregularities of Arunkumar's appointment in the IHRD, besides his appointment as the director of the ICT Academy," said the member. The committee summoned 13 others, including Arunkumar and top bureaucrats.