Kerala Government In Trouble Over Liquor Sales App BevQ, High Court Says ‘Due Procedures’ Not Followed In Selecting App Developer
Counsel for petitioner argues that, among other anomalies, the interviews and evaluation for app development were conducted by an unqualified contract employee.
The Kerala government has now landed in trouble with the selection of a startup firm Faircode Technologies to develop mobile app BevQ for selling liquor in the state through a virtual queue system.
The Kerala High Court, hearing a petition filed from Kochi-based Teebu Marketing Private Limited, on the selection of Faircode to develop the app, ordered the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government to not destroy the recorded proceedings of selection via a Zoom video conference.
In the interim order passed on Tuesday (9 June), Justice Anu Sivaraman observed that Faircode had been selected to develop BevQ “without following due procedures”, a in Malayalam daily Kerala Kaumudi said.
The judge also served notices to the LDF government, headed by Pinarayi Vijayan, Faircode, and Kerala Beverages Corporation (Bevco).
Teebu Marketing, in its petition, sought to declare the selection process illegal and urged for a fresh selection for the development of the app.
When the court asked whether the app was functioning properly, the counsel of Teebu said that there were lots of complaints against BevQ.
He argued that the interview and evaluation for app development were conducted by an unqualified contract employee.
The Kerala government got the mobile app developed for liquor sale to help consumers find the nearest and less crowded liquor outlets before resuming alcohol sales.
The sales were suspended after a nationwide lockdown came into force to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).
While resuming sales, the LDF government, headed by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), asked consumers to register with the app to get liquor from Bevco outlets, private bar counters and wine and beer parlours on a take-away basis.
The Congress-led United Democratic Front Opposition had criticised the selection of Faircode, saying it was a company owned by a CPI-M supporter.
Alleging large scale corruption in the selection of the app developer, opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said the project to develop BevQ was shrouded in mystery.
This is the second instance when the Vijayan government has been caught in a controversy over managing the coronavirus situation.
Earlier, it ended up in a controversy over the selection of a US-based firm Sprinklr for the maintenance of Covid-19 data in the state.
The Kerala High Court the CPI-M government over the Sprinklr deal and allowed it under riders in view of the emergency created by the coronavirus pandemic. It said at one point of time, it wanted to stay the deal.
Later, the Kerala government ended the contract with the US firm and told the court that all back-ups collected by Sprinklr would be deleted.
The case over the selection of Faircode for BevQ app will be heard by the High Court after two weeks.
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