Kochi (Kerala) [India], December 1 (ANI): Kerala High Court on Thursday, while hearing a plea challenging a probe against the Kerala Lokayukta over allegation of corruption in the purchase of equipment, including PPE kits during the Covid-19 pandemic by the state government in 2020, observed that disasters should not be a cover for corruption and nepotism.
"No one should think that they can do anything during disasters," Kerala HC said.
The court also observed that the Lokayukta has the power to consider complaints regarding allegations of corruption.
Rajan Khobragade, who was the Principal Secretary of the State Health Department, the Secretary of the State Health Department and others were the petitioners against the Lokayukta probe.
"The Lokayukta has no jurisdiction to entertain this complaint. These things have been done with a special safeguard as such properties were bought during the Covid period under the Disaster Management Act. The Lokayukta has no authority to consider the complaint," the High Court alleged.
Division Bench headed by Chief Justice S Manikumar observed that it is true that these properties were purchased under the Disaster Management Act. Let that protection stand there. Let it be investigated whether there is any corruption in this or not. The position of the court was that the matter of special protection can be considered later. Who is afraid of the investigation? The Lokayukta can proceed with the investigation in the context of these positions of the court.
Lokayukta has ordered a probe over the allegation of corruption in the purchase of PPE kits and other medical equipment during the period of Covid-19 on a complaint filed by Veena S Nair, the State Secretary of the All India Mahila Congress. Following this, the former Kerala health minister KK Shailaja and eight others were summoned by the Lokayukta on December 9 either directly or through their counsel.
The allegation made by the Mahila Congress leader is that there was huge corruption in the purchase of kits and other medical supplies needed to fight against Covid."
KK Shailaja, former Health Secretary Dr Rajan Khobragade, former Managing Director of Kerala Medical Services Corporation, Balamurali, former general manager of Kerala Medical Services Corporation SR Dilipkumar, and seven others had been mentioned in the complaint. All the eleven names mentioned in the complaint were either decision makers or directly responsible for the procurement of medical equipment during the Covid period. (ANI)