Bombay HC to hear PIL on alleged irregularities in ambulance purchase case on November 5

PALAK SHAH Mumbai | Updated on September 13, 2019

The Bombay High Court has set November 5 as the next date of hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a whistle-blower alleging irregularities in the purchase of ambulances under the ‘Highway Emergency Medical Relief and Accident Mitigation’ plan.

The PIL was filed in 2017, and the HC had issued several notices to the respondents. The last notice was issued in 2018 and the deadline to reply ended in July this year.

The court notices were issued to the central government, Maharashtra state government, IRDA and GIC, but none of them have replied.

IRDA is the insurance sector regulator and GIC, which represents the industry, was set up and regulated by IRDA.

Replying a query from the BusinessLine, the GIC said that they would not comment since the matter is subjudice, while the IRDA did not respond to emails.

The allegations

The PIL states that, in 2012, the IRDA, under the then chairman J Hari Narayan, devised a scheme along with GIC and provided ₹9 crore as finance for ‘Highway Emergency Medical Relief and Accident Mitigation’.

According to the PIL, the project was implemented by roping in Dr. Ranga Rao, a close friend of Narayan, Health Management And Research Institute, Hyderabad, and a Mumbai-based company Ziqitza Healthcare Pvt. Ltd. (ZHL). The PIL alleges contracts for the project were given without due tendering process, and that the project was never implemented.

According to FIR filed by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in an other case, ZHL is alleged to be linked to Karti Chidambaram, son of former finance minister P Chidambaram. ZHL has also been named by the CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED), in Rajasthan and Odisha ambulance scam. In the Rajasthan ambulance scam, CBI has registered FIR alleging irregularities including “excess bills” claimed by ZHL and the payment allegedly directed to politicians.

When he was booked by the ED in 2015 on allegations of money laundering charges in the Rajasthan case, Karti Chidambaram said he had nothing to with ZHL. “I am not a director of the company. I was never a shareholder of the company. I was a director till February 24, 2012,” he had said reacting to the ED case then.

Karti Chidambaram clarifies

Karti Chidambaram has clarified to BusinessLine that he was a non-executive director" of the company (ZHL) and did not receive any remuneration. "I did not own any shares in the company. The company was started for a noble cause. It is not right to name only me when there are other directors also on the board of the company. I was not questioned by CBI or ED in the alleged ambulance scam anywhere and I have no role to play."


Published on September 10, 2019

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