Kerala High Court Wednesday rejected the petition of former state health minister K K Shailaja and others, including senior IAS officers and private firms, challenging a Lok Ayukta probe into alleged corruption in the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) kits and surgical equipment during the Covid-19 pandemic.
A division bench of Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly directed the petitioners that they should file statements before the Lok Ayukta within two weeks. Shailaja and others moved the court challenging a notice issued by the Lok Ayukta on October 10, as a sequel to the probe into the alleged scam. The anti-corruption body had acted upon a complaint filed by Congress leader Veena S Nair.
Rejecting the petition of the senior CPI(M) leader and others, the high court said, “Considering the facts and circumstances, there is no reason to interfere with the investigation initiated by the Lok Ayukta and the maintainability of the complaint before the anti-corruption body.’’
Shailaja and others had challenged the Lok Ayukta probe saying that the decision to proceed with the complaint under the provisions of Kerala Lok Ayukta Act, 1999, is ultra vires the Disaster Management Act, 2005, a central legislation.
The court, however, said there are no provisions under the Lok Ayukta Act in conflict with provisions of the Disaster Management Act insofar as the investigation was concerned.
The petition before the Lok Ayukta had pointed out large-scale corruption and embezzlement. It is also alleged that over 10,000 disposable PPE kits were bought at a higher price than the maximum retail price of Rs 3,000. It is also stated in the complaint that all the purchases were made in violation of the provisions of the Store Purchase Manual.