Kerala HC refuses to interfere with the CBI probe into Life Mission project

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The CBI had taken over the investigation on a complaint filed by Wadakkancherry Congress MLA Anil Akkara, alleging Foreign Country (Regulation) Act violations in the project

In a huge blow to the Left Democratic Front government, the Kerala high court on Thursday, October 1, refused to interfere with the CBI probe into the alleged corruption and irregularities in the Life Mission project being implemented at Wadakkancherry in Thriissur district with financial assistance from the United Arab Emirates.   

While hearing a petition filed by the government with a plea to quash the FIR filed by the central agency in the case, Justice V G Arun allowed it to continue with the investigation and directed the state government to cooperate with the probe.

The CBI had taken over the investigation on a complaint filed by Wadakkancherry Congress MLA Anil Akkara, alleging Foreign Country (Regulation) Act violations in the project and has booked Santhosh Eapen, Managing Director of Unitac Builders & Developers, which bagged the contract for building 140 flats and a health centre in the government land at Wadkkancherry.

The government moved the high court against the probe after the CBI served notice on Life Mission CEO to appear before the agency for interrogation on October 5, alleging political motives behind the probe undertaken by the government without the consent of the state government.

Senior Supreme Court advocate K V Viswanathan questioned the CBI probe saying that it would affect the morale of Life Mission, which was established to build 4.3 lakh houses for homeless people in the state within a span of five years.

CBI counsel Sasthamangalam S Ajithkumar stated that the association between Life Mission and UAE-based Red Crescent Authority, which provided funds for the project, had to be investigated further. Alleging that the two companies were stooges of the state government, he urged the court to let the probe continue. Observing that the investigation cannot be ordered to stop at this stage, Justice VG Arun adjourned the hearing to October 8.

The project had entangled in controversy after Swapna Suresh, the second accused in the gold smuggling case admitted that Rs.1 crore the Customs seized from her bank locker, was the commission she had received in the project. Later it was revealed that commissions from the fund had gone to many including the son of a minister.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s media adviser had revealed in a television talk show that the total commission paid in the project was Rs.4.25 lakh. Finance Minister Thomas Isaac, who was present in the show, endorsed his statement.

The LDF government absolved responsibility in the project, saying that it had no role in the selection of the builders of the construction of the flats. The government also argued that FCRA would not apply in the case of the builders as there is no bar on them from receiving money from foreign sources. 

 

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