Kochi: In a dramatic turn of events, the LDF government on Tuesday made it clear that senior lawyer M.K. Damodaran will not assume office as the legal adviser to Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
The government made the statement in the Kerala High Court, when a case filed by the BJP Kerala unit chief Kummanam Rajasekharan against the appointment of the lawyer came up for hearing.
The government backtracked on the move to appoint a legal adviser to the CM, a first-of-its-kind in the state, after Damodaran's recent acts of appearing in some cases against the state government kicked up a controversy.
Legal adviser row: It’s about constitutionality, more than propriety
However, the court made it clear that there was nothing unconstitutional in the appointment of the legal adviser.
The opposition parties and political observers has been criticizing the government after Damodaran appeared against the state government in a corruption case against INTUC leader R. Chandrasekharan and quarry owners in another case.
He also appeared for controversial lottery kingpin Santiago Martin in a case challenging the Enforcement Directorate's order to attach the lottery baron's assets.
Not just the opposition, even CPI - the second largest constituent of the CPM-led LDF - had said that entertaining people like Damodaran will cast a cloud of suspicion over the acts of the government.
Following the row, Damodaran had reportedly said that he does not wish to assume the charge if it would bring embarrassment to the government.
However, Pinarayi and the CPM has been defending the senior lawyer saying he does not draw any remuneration from the government for serving as the legal advisor to the CM. The post was specially created for Damodaran, known to be a confidant of Pinarayi.
The additional advocate general conveyed the government's stance to the HC. Though an order was issued on July 9 appointing Damodaran to the post, he has not assumed the office yet.
The court would on Thursday consider the question as to whether a legal adviser is needed for the CM when there is already an advocate general to deal with such matters. The case was heard by a bench of acting chief justice Thottathil Radhakrishnan and justice Anu Sivaraman.
(With agency inputs)