The Kerala High Court on Tuesday ordered an interim stay on the CBI probe against the Chief Executive Officer of the Life Mission, a housing scheme for the poor by the Kerala government. The order was issued after considering the plea of the state government against the probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the alleged Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) violations. The CBI will probe if the Kerala government violated the FCRA rule by accepting foreign funds for its projects without the approval from the Union government. The stay is valid for the next two months.
However, the court did not quash the FIR filed by CBI in the alleged discrepancies of awarding the contract for the construction of houses under the Life Mission project. Reportedly, the court also did not stay the investigation against the Managing Director of Unitac Builders and Developers, the builder of the apartments for Life Mission project and the first accused in the case. The stay is only on the probe against Life Mission CEO UV Jose.
CBI started the probe into the alleged discrepancies related to the construction of housing complex in Thrissur‚Äôs Wadakanchery for those who lost their houses in the Kerala floods. United Arab Emirates (UAE) based non-governmental organisation Red Crescent had signed an agreement with the Life Mission CEO UV Jose, sponsoring the project for Rs 20 crore, in 2019.
Justice VG Arun, who heard the plea via video conference, reportedly said that the case needs to be heard in detail and posted the case for further consideration before the physical bench, reported Live Law.
[Breaking] Kerala HC stays CBI investigation for two months against CEO of the LIFE Mission Project of the Kerala Government in the FIR registered by the central agency alleging FCRA violations over receiving foreign donations for the house construction project for flood victims.‚ÄĒ Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) October 13, 2020
UV Jose was interrogated by the CBI earlier this month and also by the Enforcement Directorate.
Reacting to the court order, Congress MLA Anil Akkara, based on whose complaint CBI registered the case, said that he is satisfied with the court order. ‚ÄúI had anticipated the move. The court has not quashed the FIR. Also, there is no stay on the probe against Unitac Builders,‚ÄĚ said Anil Akkara.
Meanwhile, Minister for Law AK Balan reiterated the stand of the Kerala government, stating that CBI probe will not stand against the government as there has not been any FCRA violation.
During its arguments in the hearing last week, CBI‚Äôs counsel had reportedly quoted a famous Malayalam movie dialogue ‚ÄĒ ‚ÄėCBI is not Central Bureau of Idiots but Central Bureau of Investigation' by actor Jagathy Sreekumar in the CBI series starring Mammootty.
Apart from the alleged FCRA violation, it has also come out that there have been discrepancies in how Unitac Builders got the contract of the project. Swapna Suresh, a key accused in the controversial gold smuggling case and a former employee of the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram, had allegedly received a commission from the firm to help it bag the contract.