On Tuesday, the Kerala High Court has stayed the CBI probe for two months, into the alleged irregularities in the ‘Life Mission’, a state housing project envisaging total housing for the homeless.
The bench headed by Justice V G Arun heard the arguments from both the sides and granted a stay considering a plea filed by the Kerala government, seeking to quash an FIR filed by the CBI, naming Life Mission for alleged violation of FCRA.
The Livelihood Inclusion and Financial Empowerment is a mission by the state government with an aim to provide housing to the poor and landless. The mission had entered into an MoU with the Red Crescent Authority for Rs 20 crore assistance for the project in Wadakkanchery – Rs 14.5 crore for a housing complex and Rs 5.5 crore for a hospital attached to the complex. Red Crescent then signed a contract with Unitac for the construction of the apartments.
Nonetheless, the Central Bureau of Investigation filed an FIR in a Kochi court under Section 120 B of the Indian Penal Code and Section 35 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 on a complaint by Wadakancherry Congress MLA Anil Akkara, listing Santosh Eappen, Managing Director of Unitac Builder, Kochi, as the first accused and Sane Ventures as the second accused. CBI has alleged that FCRA was violated in receiving the funding from the UAE-based organization.
Before the Kerala High Court, the CBI had argued that the deal violated the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act and that government officials and the accused in the Trivandrum Airport gold smuggling case had indulged in massive embezzlement under the cover of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed for the project.
However, the Kerala government said that it had no role in the dealings and contract between Red Crescent and Unitac while citing that the state’s Vigilance Department is already investigating the allegations concerning the deal. Moreover, the provisions of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act do not apply in the case, added the state government.
On the other hand, Michael Varghese, a native of Alappuzha, has approached the High Court, alleging that the petition led by the chief minister and others through the government advocate seeking quashing of the CBI FIR in the case is unconstitutional.