The vehicles were purchased violating Modernisation of Police Forces (MOPF) scheme guidelines, says CAG
Around 15% of vehicles purchased by Kerala police between 2013 and 18 were either cars or luxury vehicles, violating Modernisation of Police Forces (MOPF) scheme guidelines, says CAG.
“Forty-one out of 269 Light Motor Vehicles were either cars or luxury vehicles such as Toyota Innova Crysta, Maruti Ciaz, Maruti Ertiga, Swift Dzire, etc,” the CAG Audit report reveals.
The MOPF scheme guidelines only allow procurement of vehicles like jeeps, motorcycles, and medium/heavy vehicles for deployment at the police stations and outposts. The procurement of cars is not admissible under the scheme.
The MOPF scheme was launched in 1969-70 by the Indian government to make the state police more efficient and effective using the latest equipment, resources, and technology.
It was envisaged to reduce the dependence of the state on the army and central paramilitary forces to meet the challenges to internal security and the law and order situation.
“The Audit observes that instead of procuring 41 luxury vehicles, the police department could have procured at least 46 Bolero’s at the same price,” the CAG report says.
Altogether there were 3748 LMVs with the Police Department as on 01 January 2018, of which 790 were deployed in police stations, against the requirement of 1042, thus, indicating a shortfall of 24%.
And the Audit noticed that 64 of the 269 LMVs, 24% procured during the period 2013-18 were procured for the use of non-operational units and high-level officers in violation of the MOPF scheme guidelines.
The Audit also observed that while eight of the 64 vehicles were allotted to the vehicle pool at Police headquarters or high-level officers, 19 vehicles were allotted to non-operational units like Crime Branch Criminal Investigation Department (CBCID) and 25 vehicles like Bolero SLE 2WD and Tata Sumo Gold were transferred to vigilance department, which is not covered under the scope of the MOPF scheme.
According to the CAG, the action of the police department in procuring luxury vehicles for use of its officers instead of the permissible vehicles violated the MOPF scheme guidelines and therefore, may affect the operational efficiency of the department.
“Together with the 23 vehicles irregularly allotted to non-operational units, these 69 vehicles would have sufficed to meet the requirement of the five police stations that did not have any LMV and 57 of the 193 police stations which were provided with only one LMV. The operational efficiency of these Police Stations could certainly have been enhanced,” S Sunil Raj, IA & AS, Accountant General (General & Social Sector Audit), said.
In 2019 April, Kerala government cars, SUVs and sedans were used by police forces in India and abroad for overt and covert operations.
It was stated that due to the allocation of additional funds under the state Modernisation of Police Department Scheme and dropping of mobility component generally from MOPF, vehicles of various categories were to be procured as per the department’s requirements.
However, the CAG report states that a reply from the Kerala government is not tenable since the MOPF scheme guidelines did not provide for the procurement of cars during 2013-18.
The Audit also found without calling for open tender as required under the Stores Purchase Manual, the State Police Chief constituted a Technical Committee that evaluated bullet-proof vehicles from three manufacturers and recommended the purchase of Mitsubishi Pajero from Hindustan Motors Finance Corporation at a price of Rs 55.02 lakh in July 2017.
“Subsequently, in August 2017, the department placed a supply order with M/s. Hindustan Motors Finance Corporation Ltd. for two bullet-resistant vehicles without inviting tenders at a total cost of Rs 1.10 crore,” the CAG report reveals.
“On the same day, the department, citing security concerns as a reason for not tendering, requested the Kerala government to ratify its action of having placed supply order without following the tender procedure,” the report reveals.
An advance payment of Rs 33 lakh, 30% of the cost of the vehicles, was also made in September 2017 to the supplier by the department without awaiting ratification from the Kerala government.
Interestingly, in April 2018, the Kerala government declined to ratify the action of the SPC of placing the supply orders with Hindustan Motors Finance Corporation and the sanction of the advance payment of Rs 33 lakh to the firm.
The vehicles were received in June 2018 by the police department.
“Audit was informed by the police department in June 2018 that the balance amount of 77 lakh was yet to be released to the supplier,” the CAG official said.
According to CAG, the SPC neither followed an open tender system nor a limited tender system. The entire procurement process was thus vitiated.
“Audit observed that the SPC had as early as in April 2017, obtained the specifications and Proforma Invoice from the suppliers of ‘Mitsubishi Pajero Sport’ much before the meeting of the Technical Committee in July 2017, clearly indicating that the vehicle had been identified for purchase and that there was no intention to procure the vehicle under Open Tender or even Limited Tender,” the CAG official said.
The CAG states that citing security considerations as a reason for not resorting to open tender is also not acceptable since various police forces across the country like Odisha and Bihar have resorted to open tender for making procedures for similar procurement.
“Thus, the procurement of the Bullet Resistant Vehicles was unauthorized and was effected in complete violation of the conditions stipulated in the Stores Purchase Manual,” the CAG official added.
Meanwhile, Kerala police terming CAG report as allegations, it has said that it will respond to the report when the Public Accounts Committee asks them.
The CAG report has to be sent to PAC by the state government.
“We will provide information on each allegation will be provided to the PAC,” VP Pramod Kumar, Deputy Director at Kerala Police media centre said.