But the cars for the HC judges are much inferior ones when compared to that for Jayarajan.
As per the cabinet notes of November 16 prepared for the proposals (both accessed by TOI), while Jayarajan was sanctioned Rs 35 lakh for purchasing a new vehicle, only Rs 24 lakh each was sanctioned for purchasing four Innova Crysta (BS6 version diesel) cars for the judges. This makes it amply clear that Jayarajan, who is only the vice-chairman of one of the several boards and corporations under the government, is being granted a much superior version or a superior brand with advanced features.
The chief minister’s office included the cabinet’s decision to clear funds for the purchase of four new vehicles for the high court judges in the press note issued on the same day of the decision. But the decision to clear the proposal for purchasing the vehicle for Jayarajan was not included in it, raising questions on why the government chose to hide the details from the media.
As per the cabinet note for sanctioning the vehicles for high court judges, the registrar of high court (administration) had requested the government to grant 11 cars for the use of high court judges. While seven were sanctioned in March and April this year, four more were pending for clearance. The high court registrar then informed the government that the Supreme Court collegium has cleared the proposal to elevate four advocates to the rank of high court judges and the process is in the final stages. But the court was not able to provide four cars of the same segment to the judges to be inducted soon.
The matter was then considered by the finance department, which said, “The finance agrees to the proposal for purchase of four more Innova Crysta at Rs 24 lakh for each on the condition that the vehicles shall be for the use of honourable judges, and if the vehicles are for the replacement of the existing vehicles of honourable judges, equivalent cars should be condemned or surrendered to the government”.
It was on this condition that the finance department sanctioned the proposal and forwarded it for the cabinet’s consideration. The cabinet then cleared the proposal and sanctioned Rs 96 lakh for the purchase, along with clearing the proposal for purchasing a new vehicle for Jayarajan. However, in Jayarajan’s case, the finance department and the cabinet sanctioned Rs 11 lakh more than what was sanctioned for the judges, citing “the need for a high-security system and also the physical condition of vice-chairman” and as “a special case” by overlooking not only the austerity orders, but also the policy to hire e-vehicles hereafter.