Kerala HC Allows CBI to Continue with Probe in Life Mission Housing Project
File photo of Kerala High Court. (Credit: ANI/Twitter)
The Kerala High Court on Thursday allowed the CBI to continue with its probe into the 'Life Mission', a state housing project envisaging total housing for the homeless, for alleged violation of Foreign Contribution (Regulations) Act. The court said the CBI is doing the preliminary probe and asked the Life Mission to cooperate with the investigation.
Justice V G Arun listed the matter for further hearing on October 8. In an oral order, the court asked the investigation agency to continue with the probe.
The Kerala government had on Wednesday moved the Court seeking quashing of an FIR filed by the CBI, naming Life Mission for alleged violation of FCRA. The Life Mission CEO in his petition submitted that the FIR was "illegal, arbitrary and nothing but an abuse of the process of law and is, therefore, liable to be quashed." The CBI had filed an FIR in a Kochi court under Section 120 B of the IPC 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.
Akkara alleged that there has been violation of the FCRA act by the Life Mission, private companies and others. The Life Mission CEO submitted before the court that the complaint was that Unitac and Sane Ventures, two companies which had undertaken the construction based on the agreement entered into with them by Red Crescent, had directly accepted foreign contributions from Red Crescent, which is a foreign agency.
"The said allegation in the complaint and the FIR do not make out any offence under the Act," he had said in the petition. The petition also said the companies which signed an agreement with the Red Crescent do not come under the categories of persons prohibited from receiving any foreign contribution as per Section 3 of the FCRA.
It also said the registration of FIR "in haste, without even conducting any preliminary enquiry, clearly reveals the malafides behind the same…the CBI cannot investigate any offence other than the offence referred under the Act. The CBI probe, stretching beyond the offences under the Act, particularly going by the nature of the allegations in the complaint, is an attempt to overcome the statutory prescription mandated by Section 17 A of the Prevention of Corruption Act," the petition said.
The alleged FCRA violation and corruption in the project has snowballed into a major political issue with Opposition parties alleging that Swapna Suresh, a key accused in the gold smuggling case, had admitted before an NIA court that she had received Rs 1 crore as commission from the project. Red Crescent, an international humanitarian movement, had agreed to provide Rs 20 crore towards the Life Mission project.
The opposition has alleged that there was corruption involved in the selection of the contractor by Red Crescent.