Eight people have filed a petition with the Kerala High Court for anticipatory bail in the case involving the misappropriation of over 7.5 crores from the Kerala Advocates Welfare Fund. When the case was heard today, Justice K. Babu refused to grant the accused interim protection and adjourned the case until Monday.
The parties have been directed to produce all relevant materials before the bench for consideration at this point. In two petitions filed by lawyers practising before various courts across the State and enrolled with the Bar Council, the Court had previously ordered a CBI investigation into the scam, weighing the depravity of the offence.
The fund was established to provide advocates in Kerala with retirement benefits and social security.
The fund’s sources include amounts paid by the Bar Council, contributions made by the Bar Council, and voluntary donations or contributions made by the Bar Council of India or any other Bar Associations, as well as all sums received through the sale of stamps under Section 22 of the Kerala Court Fees and Suit Valuation Act.
The Trustee Committee is responsible for administering the fund and holding the funds’ and trust’s assets, according to Section 9 of the Act. All accounts of the Trustee Committee must be audited annually by a Chartered Accountant appointed by the Bar Council, as required by Section 10 (4) of the Act. The petitioners claim that this was not done properly for some years.
Investigations revealed that funds were misappropriated on a large scale, and there had been no auditing since 2007. The petitioners claim that failing to audit the account for such a long time allowed the perpetrators to misappropriate funds through fraud and manipulation.
As a result, the petitioners approached the Court, requesting that the case be turned over to the Central Bureau of Investigation for investigation. When the CBI investigation was ordered, the Kerala Bar Council issued a press release stating that it does not intend to appeal the High Court’s decision and that the Council supports the Court’s decision. Following this, the Central Bureau of Investigation recently filed an FIR to investigate the scam.
MK Chandran, an accountant with KAWFTC, and his eight acquaintances, K Babu Scaria, Sreekala Chandran, Anadaraj, Martin A, Dhanapalan, Rajagopal P, Jeyaprabha R, and Fathima Sherin, are named in the re-registered FIR. They received the funds in their bank accounts. In this case, eight of them have asked the court for anticipatory bail.