Kerala govt recommends solar scam case to CBI, objects to probe in Life Mission scam

1/25/2021

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 A day after recommending a CBI probe in the solar scam case, ahead of Assembly polls scheduled later this year, the Kerala government in the Supreme Court on Monday vehemently objected to the CBI probe ordered by the Centre in the Life Mission scam, where the state government is in the dock.

The Left Democratic Front (LDF) government had recommended a CBI probe into cases against former chief minister Oommen Chandy and five others over allegations of sexual abuse linked to the state's infamous 'solar scam'. The opposition Congress had termed this move "politically motivated".

After a hearing in the matter , a bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, Hemant Gupta and R. Subhash Reddy said: "Issue notice limited to the order of the High Court in Crl.M.C. No.4375/2020 as well as on the prayer for interim relief, returnable in four weeks."

The Kerala government in the special leave petition (SLP) in the top court challenged the January 12, judgment of the Kerala High Court, where it dismissed a petition filed by the CEO, Life Mission under Section 482 of the CrPC seeking quashing of FIR No. RC 5(A)/2020/ACB/CBI/Cochin in September 2020, registered by the CBI.

The allegations in the FIR are that Unitac and Sane ventures directly accepted foreign contributions from United Arabs Emirates Red Crescent, which was utilised to pay commissions to various middlemen including state representatives and government officials. The state government has argued that neither Unitac nor Sane Ventures fall within the ambit of Section 3 which lays down the categories of persons prohibited from receiving any foreign contributions.

"The said FIR was registered on the basis of a complaint dated 20.09.2020 lodged by Respondent No. 3 (MLA, Indian National Congress) alleging offences under Section 35 r/w Section 3 of the Foreign Contributions (Regulations) Act, 2010 ("FCRA"), read with Section 120-B of the IPC", said the state government petition in the top court.

Life Mission is a complete housing project of Kerala government, for the purpose of providing secure and decent housing facilities for all the landless and homeless residents of the state, envisaged to be implemented with public participation. The project contemplates construction of housing units by way of utilisation of government funds, funds through sponsorships and funds of local self government institutions.

Opposition parties have made allegations that huge sums as commission for implementing the project have been accepted by several political leaders and officers. According to reports vigilance bureau had pointed at inclusion of several government officers in the scam. In October, the state government had recommended the case for a vigilance probe.

"The FIR was registered, interalia, against unknown officials of LIFE Mission. This investigation by the CBI tread the same ground as the ongoing investigations by the Director of Vigilance and the ACB arising out of FIR No. 02/2020-VACB-SIU-1", said the state government.

"The High Court had not addressed the contention of the petitioner to the effect the provisions of the FCRA are not attracted against the State and its officials, and proceeded to permit the CBI to carry on its investigation with regard to allegations of receiving kickbacks and expensive gifts, which are not offences under the FCRA, 2010 and which only attract the offences under the PC Act, in relation to which there is already an investigation by the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau of the State", said the Kerala government plea.

As an interim relief, the state government has urged the top court to grant ad-interim ex parte stay of all further proceedings against the petitioners in pursuance of the FIR, and also stay the High Court order.

Source: IANS

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