Kerala

HC stays govt. decision to bar PwC

Kerala High Court. File  

The Kerala High Court on Friday stayed for one week the State government order barring Pricewaterhouse Coopers Private Ltd (PwC) from participating in government projects for two years and refusing to extend a contract relating to the Kerala Fibre Optics Networks (KFON) project with PwC.

Justice P.V. Asha passed the stay order on a writ petition filed by Rakesh Kaul Panjabi, a partner of the PwC, challenging the government order.

The petitioner pointed out that the government had decided to bar/blacklist the petitioner company on the ground that the company did not perform a comprehensive background check including the educational qualifications of an individual in the PMU Space Park. The petitioner company had been the management consultant for the Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited (KSITIL)’s space park project.

The government took the decision in the wake of allegations that it was PwC that had cleared the appointment of Swapna Suresh, one of the accused in the gold smuggling case, as an Operations Manager of the Space Park. It was allegedly based on the recommendation of the Chief Minister’s former principal secretary M. Sivasankar. It was found later that Swapna’s graduation certificate was a bogus one.

The petitioner contended that the government had not followed the principle of natural justice before issuing the order. It had arbitrarily proceeded to bar or blacklist the petitioner company without hearing it. In fact, it was after receiving the curriculum vitae of Swapna Suresh from the Managing Director of KSITL that the petitioner had got the background verification checked by a third party, namely M/S Vision Technology and Staffing Solutions Pvt. Limited.

The company later received a letter from the Vision company saying that the candidate’s background verification was found to be “clear’. It was only after that the candidate was deputed to the Space Park Project “as a third party resource on the payroll of Visions”.

The petitioner argued that the order had been passed in a mechanical manner and without any application of mind. The petitioner had made large investments in equipping itself to perform the works of the KSITIL’s project. The government order would render these investments redundant and lose its complete market stand in the State.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2021 8:01:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/hc-stays-govt-decision-to-bar-pwc/article33251040.ece

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