Kerala High Court on Tuesday has granted the permission to the central investigation agency CBI to continue the Life Mission scam probe while observing that it is an intelligent scam. The High Court has also dismissed the pleas seeking quashing of FIR by CBI in connection to the fraud.
However the court observed that the criminal liability of the non-political actors in the case cannot be extended to the political executive of the State, just because the crime was done while executing a policy decision of the government.
The petitions were moved by LIFE Mission CEO and contractor Unitac’s CEO Santhosh Eappen. Earlier in October 2020, the court had stayed the CBI probe against LIFE Mission CEO but had permitted the CBI probe against the builder Unitac.
The LIFE Mission scam case includes alleged violation of the foreign contribution regulation and corruption in Kerala government’s LIFE Mission which was aimed at rehabilitating the flood victims.
Senior counsel KV Viswanathan, appearing for state government questioned the jurisdiction of the CBI in the investigation, especially when a vigilance probe is ongoing. Counsel Viswanathan argued that regulation of foreign contribution is not attracted in the case. He further claimed that allowing the CBI to continue the investigation would strike against the federal structure of the government.
While senior counsel Sasthamangalam S Ajithkumar, representing CBI, told the court that even if the state government doesn’t refer the case to CBI, a full-fledged investigation is required in the matter as a large scale corruption is involved.
Advocate Viswanathan contended that the CBI probe is a gross abuse of the process as statutory bodies are expressly excluded from the provisions of Foreign Contribution (regulation) Act. He further added that allowing the probe will result in lame trial that will drag on and will lead to policy paralysis.