Kochi, Jan 16 (PTI) The Kerala government has been permitted by the High Court here to release the second installment of over Rs 11 crore to state-run electronics company Keltron for installing and operating 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 release the second installment as the first tranche of Rs 11 crore had already been paid, the cameras were installed, were working and challans were being issued.
"The fact that the first installment has already been released, is admitted by all.
"Hence, we pass the following order: Keeping in view of the fact that cameras have already been installed by concerned respondents which are working and challans have been issued, we permit the state authorities to release the second installment to the tune of Rs 11,79,11,440 in favour of KELTRON," the bench said.
The court also made it clear that the release of payments would be subject to further orders passed in the matter.
With the direction, the court listed the matter for further hearing on February 29.
The order came on a plea by two Congress leaders -- Leader of Opposition in the assembly V D Satheesan and Ramesh Chennithala -- for quashing of approval given to setting up the cameras under the Safe Kerala initiative.
Earlier on September 18 last year, the court had allowed the state government to release the first tranche of the payment due to Keltron for the project.
That order had come as a relief to the state government as the court had on June 20, 2023 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 petitioners have challenged the orders issued by the LDF government with regard to the 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.
Besides that, they have also sought a court-monitored enquiry into the project and its execution.
The Kerala government had in 2020 entered into an agreement with Keltron for the project.
In April last year, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurated the 'Safe Kerala' project, which included installation of AI cameras, envisaged to reduce road accidents and traffic violations in the state. PTI HMP HMP KH