Kerala High Court extends interim order staying State's embargo on PwC from participating in electricity and IT projects

The Kerala High Court has extended its interim stay on the Kerala Government's two-year embargo on consultancy firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers' participation in the government's electricity and IT projects.
Kerala High Court extends interim order staying State's embargo on PwC from participating in electricity and IT projects
PwC, Kerala High Court

The Kerala High Court on Wednesday extended its interim stay on the Kerala Government's two-year embargo on consultancy firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) from participation in the government's electricity and information technology projects.

A Bench of Justice PV Asha issued an extension today, following the State Attorney KV Sohan's submission that the State government was yet to file a counter affidavit in the matter.

Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi is appearing for PwC.

The State Attorney also expressed that he had no objection to an extension of the interim direction which stayed the operation of the Kerala Government order.

The matter is expected to be taken up next on January 7, 2021.

On December 4, the Kerala High Court stayed the Kerala government's order barring PwC from participating in projects of its Electronics and Information Technology Department for two years.

PwC, Kerala High Court
Kerala Gold Smuggling case fallout: Kerala High Court stays Government Order blacklisting PwC from IT and electricity projects

The State government's contract with PwC was terminated on November 30 for an alleged failure on the part of the company in ensuring due diligence in the deployment of resources. It was alleged that PwC failed to undertake background checks when appointing a person for the Kerala Space Park Project.

The Government Order is suspected to be a fallout of the Kerala Gold Smuggling Case, which involved the smuggling of gold through diplomatic channels.

One of the accused in that case, Swapna Prabha Suresh, was an employee of PwC, and worked on the Kerala Space Park Project. She is a former employee of the Consulate of the United Arab Emirates at Thiruvananthapuram.

The Government Order dated November 27 barred PwC from participating in future projects and terminated the subsisting Space Park and KFON contracts.

In its petition before the High Court, PwC has denied any mala fides, claiming that "the individual" found to have indulged in unrelated illegalities was appointed on the recommendation of the Managing Director of the Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited, KFON, and Space Park Projects.

Additionally, background checks had been duly performed, it has been averred by the consultancy firm.

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