A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Monday dismissed a public interest petition seeking a Vigilance probe into allegations of corruption in the procurement of paddy by the State Civil Supplies Corporation, and into the alleged involvement of Civil Supplies Minister Anoop Jacob and his party workers in the transfer of officers who had detected the storing of substandard rice in a mill.
The Bench comprising Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice Vinod Chandran, while dismissing the petition, said it was convinced that the process of decentralized procurement of paddy, its processing and distribution through the public distribution system were done in accordance with the procedure laid down for this.
The petitioner was unable to point out any specific instance of corruption in this regard.
The writ petition was filed by Babichan Mukkadan, general secretary, All India Ration Dealers’ Association.
The court observed that the petitioner had lodged the complaint immediately after Mr. Jacob took charge as Minister and stated that it could not have any bearing on the conduct of the Minister.
Besides, the complaint did not have any specific allegation against the Minister, but for a reference to a nexus connecting the “top brass including Minister for Food and Supplies, Secretaries of the Department, Chairman and Managing Director of Civil Supplies Corporation”. He had also raised unsubstantiated allegations regarding the release of rice.
The court also pointed out that the petitioner had refused to cooperate with the inquiry by the Vigilance wing of the Civil Supplies into his complaint. The petitioner contended that he had refused to cooperate because an inquiry by the Vigilance wing into allegations against the Minister and higher officials would be an eye-wash.
Nothing has been placed on record suspecting the bona fides of the officer in the Vigilance wing. The petitioner had not looked into the constitution of the Vigilance wing before raising a plea of bias. Almost every department had a Vigilance wing, the Bench observed.
The allegation was that good quality paddy was procured from the farmers in the State by the Corporation. He alleged that what was meant for the public distribution was substituted with rice of paddy procured from outside the State and passed on to the ration dealer. The Corporation supplied processed rice to the ration dealers directly from the mills without routing it through the warehouse of the Corporation. The corrupt practices were being carried out with the knowledge of the Minster and his party workers and officers, the petitioner had alleged.
The petitioner sought a directive to the State government to ensure that rice processed from the paddy procured by the Civil Supplies by private mills be returned to the Civil Supplies Corporation instead of distributing the same to wholesale ration dealers.