Kerala HC Issues Notice On PIL Challenging State's Order Permitting Local Bodies To Donate To CPIM Controlled Kanhangad Cooperative Hospital
A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court has issued notice on a PIL filed challenging the Government Order issued by the Kerala government in March this year allowing local self-government institutions in Kasaragod District to donate money to the Kanhangad Co-operative Hospital Society.
The Petition says that the Kanhangad Co-operative Hospital Society is a private entity that has a favourable political equation with the state government, without any administrative control by the state government.
The Bench of Cheif Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P. Chaly issued notice on the PIL filed by K.Shreekanth who claims to be a social and political activist from Kasaragod District.
The Petition says that the Society was registered in the year 2001 and was in a state of limbo due to inefficient management. In the year 2022, taking advantage of the favorable political equation with the Government in power, it made a request to the Government seeking financial assistance to the tune of Rs.2 crore from the Kanhangad Municipality, Rs. 50 lakhs each from other Municipalities in the District, Rs. 25 lakhs each from block Panchayats in the District and an amount of Rs.1 crore from the Kasaragod District Panchayat, for establishing the hospital.
On receipt of the request, "without any study into its feasibility and without any verification, an order was issued by the Special Secretary, LSGD Dept. allowing local self-government institutions in Kasaragod district to release amounts without any limit to the respondent cooperative society" says the Petition.
The Petition filed by Advocate V. Sajith Kumar says that if all the local bodies in Kasargod District i.e. 38 grama panchayats, three municipalities, six block panchayats and the district panchayat pitch in as per request of the Society, it would pocket an amount to the tune of Rs 24.5 crores.
The Petition says that though the State Government started construction of a medical College in the Kasaragod District in 2013, till now, the construction work hasn't been completed and in-patient facilities have not been provided, citing a lack of funds. "... instead of upgrading the existing public medical infrastructure, the Government has made way for creating another white elephant in the form of the 5th respondent by allowing public funds to be transferred to a co-operative society helmed by private individuals", the Petition says.
The Petition says that the government order has been issued misusing the provisions of Section 212 (9), 213 and Section 216 of the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act and Section 283 (6) of the Kerala Municipality Act. "Even though the said provisions allow use of Panchayat/Municipality funds for the welfare of the inhabitants of the Panchayat/ Municipality area, the same cannot be construed as a license to transfer public funds to non-State entities. The mere fact that that activity may be useful to the public would not necessarily render it public service", it is contended in the Petition.