Kerala police fails to account for 25 INSAS rifles, 12,061 live cartridges: CAG
13 February 2020
Kerala police chief Loknath Behera, who is due for retirement in 2021, is in the eye of a storm after a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) accused him of diversion of funds and violation of norms in store purchases.
The CAG report has also accused the Kerala police department of covering up the shortfall of ammunition in a joint verification conducted at Special Armed Police Battalion in Thiruvananthapuram.
It has found that 25 INSAS rifles and 12,061 live cartridges were missing from the artillery - a serious issue with implications on state and national security.
The report noted that no action was taken against culprits responsible for the loss of ammunition. The police department, which is part of the state home ministry, is under the direct control of chief minister Pinarai Vijayan.
The police chief is in the dock after the CAG report accused him of diversion of Rs2.81 crore for constructing official residences for himself and his immediate juniors at Bhakta Vilasom police quarters in Thiruvananthapuram.
The money was allocated for the construction of staff quarters for 30 upper subordinates (sub-inspectors and assistant sub-inspectors).
Despite objections raised by the finance department, Behera requested his decision to construct five villas be ratified.
CAG report said the request was unacceptable as the modernisation of police force (MOPF) guidelines clearly stated that the benefit was meant for upper subordinates.
The CAG also cited delay in disposal of cases at Forensic Science Laboratories, irregularities in implementing the electronic beat system, flouting of store purchase manual in procurement, among the lapses.
The report noted Behera's penchant for spending on luxury vehicles instead of using the funds for improving the operational efficiency of the force.
While the police stations are grappling with a shortfall of vehicles, the CAG report noted that 15 per cent of the 269 light motor vehicles procured by the police department were luxury cars. MOPF guidelines prohibit the procurement of cars
Also, these cars were deployed for use of high-level officers and non-operational units like the CBCID and some of the high-end models were procured under the guise of mobile command and control vehicles.
The bullet-resistant vehicles, meant for operations in Naxal-infested areas, were deployed for VIP security.
Behara, a 1985-batch IPS officer, is due for retirement in 2021.
The opposition in the state assembly has demanded a CBI enquiry against state police chief Lokanath Behera for his alleged involvement in corruption. "There are concerns regarding huge purchases and constructions made by Lokanath Behera. A central agency such as CBI should investigate it." said Congress leader PT Thomas. He further charged Behera of diverting central funds meant for anti-Maoist operations.
"He creates ad-hoc committees involving 'conferred' officers to approve the purchases he had already made. He makes 'deals' with companies interested in bidding," alleged Thomas, referring to the undue influence of ACS Technologies in the police headquarters.
According to the MLA, Kerala Police Housing and Construction Corporation was not involved in several construction activities carried out by Behera.