Inquiry panel gives clean chit to Sprinklr deal

Report says there was no data loss or loss to public exchequer

A government inquiry has cleared Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s former Principal Secretary M. Sivasankar of the charge of mala fide abuse of position in the engagement of U.S.-based big data firm, Sprinklr, ostensibly to forecast the pandemic pattern in the initial days of the COVID-19 outbreak in Kerala in early 2020.

The panel headed by former Law Secretary and District Judge K. Sasidharan Nair found no “evil design, malice or bad faith" in the Sprinklr deal. There was no data loss or loss to the public exchequer.

The panel faulted Mr. Sivasankar for keeping the Law, Finance and Health Departments in the dark about the nature of the government’s engagement with Sprinklr. He should have sought prior consent of the departments, the panel said. Mr. Sivasankar also did not adhere to a security protocol for the transfer and storage of sensitive data.

Chennithala’s charge

Former Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, who had sought an anti-corruption inquiry into the alleged transfer of the personal medical information of citizens to a foreign firm, has cried foul.

He dismissed the inquiry report submitted by the three-member committee as a whitewash. Mr. Chennithala questioned the professional credentials of the committee.

It had attempted to systematically discredit the findings of the first inquiry committee that had probed the matter, he alleged.

M. Madhavan Nambiar, former Civil Aviation Secretary, and renowned Cyber expert Gulshan Roy had headed it.

Mr. Chennithala said Mr. Nambiar and Mr. Roy had found fault with the government and Mr. Sivasankar, who was then IT secretary, for opening the door for a foreign firm to harvest citizens’ medical information for possible sale to big players in the medical insurance and pharmaceutical sectors.

Discomfited by their findings, Mr. Vijayan had constituted a panel with questionable expertise to review the Sprinklr deal and protect his confidant Mr. Sivasankar, he said.

A. Vinaya Babu, a retired professor of computer science and technology, JNTUH College of Engineering, Hyderabad; and Sumesh Divakaran, professor, computer science and technology, College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram, are the other members of the panel headed by Mr. Nair.

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