Kerala High Court | Photo: Mathrubhumi
Kochi: In a relief for the ruling Left government in Kerala, the High Court here on Monday permitted it to pay state-run electronics company Keltron over Rs 11 crore as the first installment for installing and operating the artificial intelligence (AI) cameras aimed at detecting traffic violations and reducing road accidents.
A bench of Chief Justice A J Desai and Justice V G Arun allowed the state to make the payment as the cameras have already been installed, they were working and challans have been issued.
"Keeping in view the fact that cameras have already been installed by the concerned respondents (Keltron and other private companies) which are working and challans have been issued, we permit the state authorities to release the first installment to the tune of Rs 11,79,11,440 in favour of KELTRON.
"The said release should be subject to the outcome of further orders to be passed in the present writ petition," the bench said.
The order comes as a relief for the state government as the court had on June 20 ordered it not to make any financial payments as part of the AI camera project without seeking further clarification from it or till further orders.
The order had come on a plea by two Congress leaders -- Leader of Opposition in the Assembly V D Satheesan and Ramesh Chennithala -- for quashing of the approval given to setting up the cameras under the Safe Kerala initiative.
The petitioners have challenged the orders issued by the LDF government with regard to installation and operation of the AI cameras across the state alleging "illegalities, nepotism, favouritism and corruption" in the grant of contract under the project and its implementation.
They have demanded quashing of the administrative sanction and the comprehensive administrative approval given to the 'Automated Traffic Enforcement System for Safe Kerala' project.
Their plea has also sought a declaration from the court that SRIT India Pvt. Ltd, which was given the work contract by state-run Keltron, was unqualified to participate in the tender process as they do not have any expertise in traffic signal monitoring and do not satisfy the stipulations in the tender document.
The petitioners also wanted the service level agreement between Motor Vehicle Department and Keltron, the letter of intent issued to SRIT and the agreement entered between Keltron and the private company be declared as illegal and be set aside.
Besides that, they have also sought a court monitored enquiry into the project and its execution.
Chennithala and other Congress leaders have been alleging that the Left government had indulged in some irregularities in awarding the tender to SRIT for the setting up of a fully-automated traffic enforcement system.
The Kerala government had in 2020 entered into an agreement with Keltron for the project.
In April this year, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had inaugurated the 'Safe Kerala' project, which included installation of the AI cameras, envisaged to reduce road accidents and traffic violations in the state. PTI