Kerala High Court: In a petition by two Congress leaders primarily seeking stay on the implementation of fully Automated Traffic enforcement system for Safe Kerala by levying fine on the public, S.V.N. Bhatti, C.J. and Basant Balaji, JJ. directed the respondents not to make any payment under annuity until further orders of the Court.
The State Government of Kerala intended to implement ‘Safe Kerala Project’ through G.O.(MS) No.26/2023/TRANS, Department of Transport (D) dated 18-04-2023, which involved deploying technology-enabled services with a vision to efficiently and accurately increase traffic mobility in Kerala. The project allegedly aimed at introducing transparency in administration of public related issues in the State.
The Court noted that the instant petition allegedly filed in public interest questions the administrative sanction for implementing Fully Automated Traffic Enforcement System and FMS, invitation of tender by Kerala State Electronics Development Corporation Ltd. (‘KELTRON’), offers for supply of electronics modules, AIC modules, ANPRC modules, Vehicles for Mobile enforcement systems, supply installation and commissioning of CCR, DCRs, field installation, etc.
As claimed, the petitioners did not object to the implementation of ‘Safe Kerala Project’ but challenged the transparency in decision-making process for availing the technology-enabled services on traffic issues.
While ordering notice to the stakeholders in the instant matter, the Court pointed out that the petitioners in the instant Public Interest Litigation being leader of opposition along with the elected member in Kerala Legislative Assembly “desire transparency, accountability, and complete probity in the discharge of the public trust reposed by people.” The Court batted for zero tolerance on corruption and transparency and required the petitioners to come up with the standard they adhere to their heart and practice in public life and demand the same standard from respondents in the decision-making process.
The Court was convinced that the instant PIL needed to be examined for change in dynamics in implementing the project to check whether such change is vitiated by any other collateral reasons, whether the exchequer is directly or indirectly made to part with more than what was initially envisaged, and whether the G.O.(MS) No. 26/2023/TRANS was issued without deciding on the crucial aspects of cabinet meeting.
The Court noted the fact that since 5-06-2023, the said model project was replicated at other places in the State, the Court directed the respondents not to make any payment under annuity until further orders of the Court. The next hearing of the instant matter was listed on 13-07-2023.
[V.D. Satheesan MLA v. State of Kerala, Civil Writ Petition No. 19992 of 2023, Order dated 20-06-2023]
Order by: Chief Justice S.V.N. Bhatti
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For Petitioners: Senior Advocate George Poonthottam, Advocate Nisha George, Advocate Arun Chandran, Advocate J. Vishnu, Advocate A.L. Navaneeth Krishnan, Advocate Sidharth R. Wariyar;
For State: State Attorney N. Manoj Kumar, Standing Counsel M.A. Zohra.