The Kerala High Court on Thursday upheld the proceedings started by Lok Ayukta based on a complaint against ex-minister KK Shailaja and others for the alleged corruption in the purchase of PPE kits during the Covid-19 pandemic, dealing a serious blow to the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government.
The purchase of PPE kits and other medical supplies during the initial phase of the Coronavirus outbreak is alleged to have involved corruption, according to the Kerala Lok Ayukta, which previously ordered an investigation into the former health minister KK Shailaja and a few others.
Shailaja had been called to appear before the Lok Ayukta. Veena S. Nair, a leader in the Congress, filed a complaint, which prompted the action.
Shailaja claimed that because PPE kits were in short supply in the early stages of the pandemic, they were purchased at higher prices. She claimed that because human lives were more important than kit quality, the CM requested to purchase the kits.
‘The Kerala Medical Services Corporation Ltd (KMSCL) workers told me that they were running out of PPE kits and if the kits were not purchased, health workers would be at risk. When I discussed the issue with CM, he asked me to get them from wherever possible, but only after ensuring the quality of the product,’ the accused minister said.
‘The business people increased the price of PPE kits in the market. A PPE kit which was earlier available for Rs 500 was being sold for Rs 1500. I asked CM if we should buy this but he said we should as the lives of people are more important,’ Shailaja added.
She further continued, ‘It is a disaster and as per the Disaster Management Act, we have the right to collect essentials. By the time around 15,000 kits were purchased, their market price began to fall again. So, we cancelled the order for the remaining 35,000 kits and bought them at the market price instead.’