Kerala govt files petition in HC challenging CBI probe into LIFE Mission housing project

Opposing the CBI probe, the state argued that the FIR has been maliciously instituted with ulterior motives and is liable to be quashed

Published: 30th September 2020 06:08 PM  |   Last Updated: 30th September 2020 06:08 PM   |  A+A-

LIFE mission project

A housing colony built as part of the LIFE mission (File Photo | EPS)

By Express News Service

KOCHI: Two days after the CBI, which is probing the alleged scam in the LIFE Mission project, issued a notice to the CEO to produce all original documents, the state government on Wednesday filed a petition before the Kerala High Court challenging the investigation.

The crux of the complaint filed by MLA Anil Akkara is that Unitac and Sane Ventures, two companies that have been undertaking the construction of the housing project at Wadakkancherry, had directly accepted a foreign contribution from the United Arab Emirates Red Crescent Authority. But it did not make out any offence under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, the Kerala government stated in the petition.

Opposing the CBI probe, the state argued that the FIR has been maliciously instituted with ulterior motives and is liable to be quashed. "CBI is guided by political and extraneous considerations, which is glaringly revealed from the FIR itself. Hence, the FIR is liable to be interfered with on grounds of malafides," stated the government.

The CEO of the Livelihood, Inclusion and Financial Empowerment (LIFE) Mission filed the petition through senior government pleader P Narayanan. It was filed following the decision of the state cabinet based on legal advice that the government can challenge the CBI investigation as it was a unilateral decision by the central agency to investigate the case without the recommendation of the state government or high court.

The CBI registered the FIR for the offences under section 35 read with section 3 of the FCR Act and 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of IPC. The state government argued that the state of Kerala or the LIFE Mission has not accepted any contribution, much less any foreign contribution. The agreement for the construction of building for 140 apartments was executed between the Consulate General of UAE and the Unitac. It was Red Crescent which selected Unitac and Sane Ventures. Neither the state of Kerala nor LIFE Mission had any role in the selection.

Further, the government and mission have not entrusted any construction activities with the two companies. The petition stated that the construction companies undertaking the work under the agreement with Consulate Generals do not come under any of the categories of persons prohibited from receiving any foreign contribution under section 3 of the Act.

Even if the allegations in the complaint and FIR were taken at their face value and accepted in entirety, they do not prima facie constitute any offence or make out a case against any officials of the Kerala government or the LIFE Mission. The CBI has no reason to proceed with any investigation on the basis of a complaint, which does not even create any suspicion of commission of any offence of the Act.

It was settled law that no investigation can be conducted as a roving inquiry to find out whether the accused has committed any offence. The manner of registering the FIR by the CBI reveals that a roving inquiry was proposed to be conducted against officials for the Kerala government to fish out whether they have committed any offence.

The CBI has initiated an investigation on the basis of the notification issued on October 27, 2011, by the Ministry of Home Affairs under section 43 of the Act. But it only enables the Centre to also specify an agency to investigate any of the offences under the Act. The section does not authorize any specified agency to the exclusion of the state machinery.

The complaint stated that various middlemen including state representatives and government officials received Rs 4.5 crores as commission. It was also alleged that the construction agency siphoned off an amount of Rs 1.5 crores through illegal alterations in work and Rs 3.5 crores by evading GST, thus causing loss to the central excise.

The petition stated that the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau is conducting a preliminary inquiry into the allegation regarding irregularities in the housing scheme and the complaints filed by MLA Anil Akkara.


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