The Kerala High Court initiated suo motu case to examine alleged large scale corruption behind fake bills submitted by the Travancore Devaswom Board, disbanding of Devaswom Vigilance Wing.
A news report appeared in Mathrubhumi online edition alleging huge corruption behind fake food bills submitted by Devaswom. As per that news report, there is involvement of top officials behind disbanding the Vigilance team of the Travancore Devaswom Board. The move was spearheaded by those fearing arrest if the fake bills at the Sabarimala Guest House and the irregularities in the toilet construction come out.
Four officers, including two Sub Inspectors, were removed from the Vigilance Wing of the Travancore Devaswom Board. Only the Superintendent of Police, who is soon to retire, is retained and the rest of the officers were returned to the Police department. As per the news report, Vigilance found inflated bills for food that was 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. Senior Devaswom officials are likely to be held responsible, if the case is taken up by the Vigilance. The officials were alarmed when the Devaswom Vigilance identified a few cases and handed over those cases to the State Vigilance.
The division bench of Justice Anil K. Narendran and Justice said that the court passed an order in 2021 granting permission to extend the period of deputation of the Chief Vigilance Officer in the Vigilance Wing of the Travancore Devaswom Board. In the said order, it has noticed that the Chief Vigilance Officer has to effectively monitor and control all the officers of the Vigilance Wing of the Travancore Devaswom Board, who are posted at Sabarimala and to guide them by giving effective directions to prevent pilferage from Appam and Aravana making and its sale, Bhandaram, Annadanam, etc.
The court added that the Vigilance Wing, headed by the Chief Vigilance Officer has unearthed forgery of documents and misappropriation of huge amounts allegedly committed by the Administrative Officer, Nilakkal, during the period 2018-19, in the matter relating to purchase of materials for Devaswom mess at Nilakkal. Several other instances of malpractices were also detected by the Vigilance Wing headed by the Chief Vigilance Officer.
The court listed the matter on 03.02.2022 for further consideration.
Case title: Suo Motu v/s State of Kerala and Ors.
Citation: D.B.P.No.2 of 2022