CAG flays Kerala Police chief Behera over purchase of 2 bulletproof cars for VIPs

CAG flays Kerala Police chief Behera over purchase of 2 bulletproof cars for VIPs
Loknath Behera

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Police chief Lokanath Behera erred in buying bulletproof cars for use of VIPs in the state, the Comptroller and Auditor General has reported. The purchase of the vehicles was illegal and in conflict with the Stores Purchase Manual, the CAG blamed in the report.

The CAG also observed that the police could have spent the money to buy bulletproof vehicles for the commandos pressed into anti-Maoist operations. The Director General of Police had no authority to buy bulletproof vehicles for the protection of VIPs as part of the police modernisation programme, the report stated.

The CAG also said that the DGP intentionally violated the guidelines, including the Central Vigilance Commission directive to choose favourable pricing in a transparent manner.

The Kerala Police was granted Rs 1.26 crore in 2016-17 to buy bulletproof vehicles. The government released the funds with a condition that the police were to abide by the provisions of the Stores Purchase Manual. Behera, however, formed a technical committee without bothering to invite tenders as stipulated in the manual. The committee proposed the purchase of a vehicle for Rs 55.02 lakhs.

The police later decided to buy two bulletproof cars for Rs 1.10 crore without inviting tenders and requested the government to validate the decision to buy the vehicles without inviting tenders. The DGP told the government that the police did not want to invite tenders for security reasons. The police did not even wait for a reply from the government and released Rs 33 lakh for the carmaker. The government later refused to validate the irregularity in the purchase process.

The CAG has reported that the DGP’s decision to bypass the tender process and release an advance amount was a violation of rules. The auditor also points out a central directive that clearly barred the police from spending on VIP protection from funds intended for the modernisation of the force.

The DGP never mentioned in any official files that the invitation of bids was not in public interest. He did not obtain the government’s permission to release Rs 33 lakh to the company, the report further stated.

The CAG report also inferred that the police had zeroed in on the vehicles to be bought even before the official channels were opened.

It was clear that the police did not think it fit to go for an open bid or a limited tender. The police in other states bought bulletproof vehicles after inviting open bids.