M K Damodaran is part of government: Experts

Deccan Chronicle.  | Rohit Raj

Nation, In Other News

Legal, media advisors to CM enjoy status and rank of principal secretary

M K Damodaran

Kochi: Senior counsel M.K. Damodaran is not just a legal advisor to the Chief Minister with no remuneration. He has the rank and status of principal secretary to government, too, making his position vulnerable should he as a professional, argue the cases of clients who fight a legal battle with the government.  

Experts say the rank and status of principal secretary would make Mr Damodaran part of the government and hence would make his appearance for litigants against the state unfair and untenable. It also gives credence to the Opposition’s demand for the resignation of veteran lawyer from the post of legal advisor, they say.  

The appointment of Kairali TV managing director John Brittas as media advisor to the chief minister was also on the similar lines, according him the rank and status of principal secretary. Government sources say the two advisors do not use facilities including official cars or residences.

Experts point out that there can be conflict of interest if Mr Damodaran files a case against the government as he did in the quarry case at the High Court on Friday. Lawyers also point to violation of Rules of Professional standards stipulated by the Bar Council of India.

A lawyer said the appointment of a legal advisor is a first of its kind in India. “Though the rank of principal secretary is much lower to that of the advocate-general, a position Mr Damodaran  had held during 1996-2001, his clients may misuse his status to gain advantage,” the lawyer said.

Mr Damodaran has appeared for lottery king Santiago Martin challenging the decision of the Enforcement Directorate to attach his properties, kicking off a debate on the fairness of his action. Mr Damodaran subsequently appeared for quarry owners against the government and also filed a petition for Congress leader R. Chandrasekharan, prime accused in the case related to corruption at the Kerala Cashew Development Corporation.