The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Karnataka state legislature, led by senior Congress MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly) HK Patil, is planning to move a privilege motion against Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri for not probing alleged corruption in the procurement of COVID-19 equipment.
The PAC had already sought a report from the Health and Family Welfare Department after allegations of corruption surfaced with regards to the misuse of public money in the procurement of devices and personal protective equipment.
The Hindu reported that the Speaker had already barred the PAC to probe the matter on May 27 through an order. The order barred the members of the committee to make field visits or met department officials citing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hindu quoted Patil saying that the Speaker’s order was equivalent to encouraging corruption and restricting the power and privilege of MLAs and the PAC itself.
The Hindu report said that a decision if the PAC will move a privilege motion against the Speaker will be taken in a meeting scheduled to be held on June 2.
The Times of India reported that the PAC had sought permission to visit quarantine facilities and COVID-19 hospitals and do a status check on the quality of the new equipment procured.
TOI quoted Kageri saying that the PAC has also written to Chief Secretary TM Vijay Bhaskar to keep documentation of the orders made by the state for sanitisers, masks and other goods.
The allegation of corruption came as the government had given the Karnataka Drugs Logistics and Warehousing Society exemption from the Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurement Act.
Patil was further quoted as saying that the PAC was obligated to investigate the orders as complaints came that the same ventilator and sanitisers were purchased at different prices from the same vendor.