January 26, 2021 9:11:12 am
The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the CBI on a plea by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Kerala’s ruling Left government’s LIFE (Livelihood, Inclusion and Financial Empowerment) Mission Project, challenging the Kerala High Court’s judgment refusing to quash a case registered by the CBI over allegations of corruption and Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010. The LIFE mission project envisages building homes for the homeless.
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, Hemant Gupta and R Subhash Reddy sought the central agency’s response within four weeks, including on the aspect of interim stay sought by the petitioner.
Appearing for the petitioner, Senior Advocate K V Viswanathan contended that government projects are exempted under FCRA. The FIR registered by the CBI has no basis, he said, adding that the agency needs either the state government sanction or a court order to investigate a crime in the jurisdiction of a state. He accused the agency of conducting a roving inquiry over baseless charges.
The HC had on January 12 dismissed petitions challenging the CBI probe.
Under the project, the UAE Red Crescent, which is affiliated to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, agreed to provide 10 million UAE dirhams for constructing housing units to the victims of the recent Kerala flood, and a health centre. For this, a Memorandum of Understanding was entered into on July 11, 2019 between UAE Red Crescent Authority and the Government of Kerala through the Chief Executive Officer of LIFE Mission.
As the project ran into a controversy, Congress MLA Anil Aikkara lodged a complaint on the basis of which the central agency registered a crime.
Dismissing the petitions against CBI investigation, the HC said that “the typical nature of the facts involved in the instant case would reveal a high profile intellectual fraud played in furtherance of MoU so as to avoid audit by CAG and to get kickbacks and gratifications. The very nature of the mischief done in furtherance of MoU would suggest involvement of highly educated professionals – a mastermind behind it”.
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