Karnataka HC orders issue of notice to S A Ramdas

The Karnataka High Court today ordered status quo on the state government's move to open generic drug stores and issued notice to Medical Education Minister S A Ramdas on a PIL seeking quashing of allotment made to a private firm for setting up the stores

When the PIL came up for hearing, a division bench headed by acting Chief Justice K Sreedhar Rao ordered status quo on opening of such drug stores in the state.

The petition, jointly filed by Mandya resident M C Nagendra Rao and B S Shashank, a city resident, contended that the allotment was in violation of the Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurements Act.

Senior counsel Ravivarma Kumar representing the petitioners submitted that the project of such drug stores initiated by Ramdas to benefit the poor was accorded to Karnataka State Cooperative Consumer Marketing Federation which in turn handed it over to a firm Esscubes Medicines Private Limited and the company was given a contract through an MoU for the entire state.

Ravivarma Kumar further pointed out that the firm was promoted by one of the close associates of Ramdas by name Sathyanarayana Shankarananda who was appointed as trustee in a personal trust constituted by Ramdas in 2009.

The senior counsel contended that the contract was given to the above firm for "personal aggrandisement of Ramdas" and the company came into existence on February 1 after notification inviting applications for the project was issued by above Federation and was in gross violation of Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurements Act.

He prayed the court to quash the allotment made to this company and MoU signed with this firm.

In the contract for 24 such stores across the state, only six are operational and 18 are yet to be opened. While the six stores can continue to function, the remaining 18 cannot be opened till further order.

A similar complaint was filed before the Lokayukta court against Ramdas last month.

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