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Sabarimala Corruption: Kerala High Court Takes Suo Motu Cognizance Of Alleged Fake Bills, Disbanding Of Devaswom Vigilance Wing

Hannah M Varghese
2 Feb 2022 5:24 AM GMT
Sabarimala Corruption: Kerala High Court Takes Suo Motu Cognizance Of Alleged Fake Bills, Disbanding Of Devaswom Vigilance Wing
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The Kerala High Court on Tuesday took suo motu cognizance of a news report which alleged massive corruption behind fake food bills submitted by the Travancore Devaswom Board and the disbanding of the Devaswom Vigilance Wing that immediately followed.Malayalam daily Mathrubhumi had recently reported that top officials were responsible for dissolving the Vigilance Wing apprehending arrest...

The Kerala High Court on Tuesday took suo motu cognizance of a news report which alleged massive corruption behind fake food bills submitted by the Travancore Devaswom Board and the disbanding of the Devaswom Vigilance Wing that immediately followed.

Malayalam daily Mathrubhumi had recently reported that top officials were responsible for dissolving the Vigilance Wing apprehending arrest in case the fake bills and other irregularities are brought to light.

Soon, a Division Bench of Justice Anil K Narendran and Justice P.G Ajithkumar took up the matter to examine the alleged corruption at the Sabarimala Guest House. 

According to the report, four officers, including two sub-inspectors, were removed from the Vigilance Wing and only the Superintendent of Police, who is soon to retire, was retained. The rest of the officers were returned to the Police department.

The news report further claimed that the Vigilance Wing found inflated food bills provided to the dignitaries and higher officials staying in the guest house.

"Dignitaries who visited Sabarimala must bear the cost of food by themselves. For years, the expenses of the Guest House have not been audited. Even when the Special Commissioner was not at Sabarimala, his food expenses are recorded," the Court noted. 

Upon the Vigilance Wing unearthing the misappropriation, a few of the cases were handed over to the State Vigilance dreading a backlash since senior Devaswom officials were involved in the matter. 

The massive misappropriation of funds was allegedly done at the hands of the Administrative Officer, Nilakkal during 2018-19 through the purchase of materials for the mess run by the Devaswom.

The Vigilance Wing accordingly submitted a report on the same, which was then forwarded to State Vigilance. 

Thereafter, a crime was registered by the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau under Sections 420, 468 and 471 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 13(2) r/w Section 13(1) (a) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Meanwhile, the Court noted that the Vigilance Wing had detected several other instances of malpractices.

Standing Counsel for Travancore Devaswom Board pointed out that the Vigilance Wing of the Board currently consists of the Chief Vigilance Officer and one officer in the cadre of sub-inspector.

The Government Pleader submitted that the other officers were returned to the Police department since their deputation period had expired and there was no request by the Devaswom Board for an extension.

Therefore, the Court directed the Amicus Curiae Advocate N. Raghuraj to get instructions regarding the matter from the Special Commissioner of Sabarimala.

The matter will be taken up on February 3 for further consideration.

Click Here To Read/Download The Order

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