Public interest or publicity interest: Kerala HC to Satheesan
Kochi, Jan 15 (IANS) Leader of Opposition in Kerala Assembly V.D. Satheesan suffered a jolt when the High Court looking into his PIL seeking CBI probe into the state government’s Kerala Fibre Optic Network (K-Fon) project asked if the petition was for “public interest or publicity interest”.
The Court asked for the reason for filing the petition now on the project which came up in 2019.
When the counsel for Satheesan pointed out that more evidence on the corrupt deal will be filed once the CAG report comes out, the Court then asked why the petition was filed now and “shall be taken up after the report comes out”.
After going through the PIL, the Court posted the case after three weeks, though it did not ask for a notice to be served to the state government, it asked the government to file their response to this.
K-Fon is the pet project of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan which promised free Internet for two million households besides 30,000 government offices. Launched in 2017 with a completion period of 18 months, it was to be done through a new optic fibre pathway created in parallel to the electric power network of the Kerala State Electricity Board Ltd. (KSEB).
Satheesan in his petition alleged that the project and all contracts arising from it were divided among proxies of the people controlling the government.
He claimed that all the tenders involved in the project have been awarded to a single beneficiary company which is closely connected with persons in power.
Satheesan also said the said company has allegedly re-routed the work and financial benefits to another company which is associated with the same person in power.
Inside and outside the Assembly, Satheesan said that the project cost of K-Fon was pegged at Rs 1,028 crore and after the tender process was over, it was hiked to Rs 1,531 crore.
Satheesan then alleged that “there is a cartel in Kerala that has the blessings of CM Vijayan which gets all such deals, and surprisingly these are companies which have no prior experience also”.
He has all along been alleging that all ‘roads’ of corrupt dealings finally leads to one firm — Presadio Technologies, in which close family members of CM Vijayan are involved