Lok Ayukta can examine graft charges in purchase of PPE kits during Covid crisis: HC

KK Shailaja, Kerala High Court | File Photos: Manorama
The Lokayukta had initiated an inquiry into the allegation that former Health Minister KK Shailaja was complicit in the corruption involved in the purchase of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits: Manorama Online

Kochi: The Kerala High Court has ruled that the Lok Ayukta enjoys powers to examine allegations of corruption behind the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) kits and medical equipment when the COVID-19 pandemic raged in the state.

While issuing the order, the court rejected a batch of petitions filed by senior government officials against a notice they received from Lok Ayukta regarding these purchases.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chali observed in the order that allegations of corruption and financial misappropriation should be investigated under the Lok Ayukta Act.

Earlier, former Principal Secretary of the Department of Health Rajan Khobragade, former managing directors of Kerala Medical Services Corporation Limited (KMSCL) D Balamurali and Navjot Khosa and former general manager of KMSCL S R Dileep Kumar had approached the High Court raising the argument that the purchases were covered under the Disaster Management Act and not Lok Ayukta Act.

Rejecting this stand, the court allowed the officials a time of two weeks to file an explanation.

According to the court, the allegations against the officials relate to abuse of power to engage in corruption and not about misusing emergency provisions of the Disaster Management Act.

Lok Ayukta, on October 14, had ordered the officials to submit an explanation over a complaint filed before it by social activist Veena S Nair which alleged that PPE kits were purchased at inflated prices to enable corruption.

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