Life Mission probe: Kerala Assembly issues notice to ED

The Enforcement Directorate, which is probing in the Kerala gold smuggling case, is also now investigating alleged discrepancies on the Life Mission project.
Kerala assembly
Kerala assembly
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Questioning the Enforcement Directorate’s intervention in the case on alleged discrepancies around the state government’s Life Mission project, the Privileges and Ethics Committee of the Kerala Legislative Assembly issued a notice to the agency seeking certain explanations. The committee decided to seek an explanation from the central agency after a notice for privilege motion was moved by CPI(M) legislator James Mathew, alleging that ED’s "legally questionable inquiry" into the Life Mission had halted the government's project to provide free housing for the poor.

The committee has sought an explanation from ED on the basis of a letter given by Mathew in this regard, A Pradeepkumar, chairman of the Committee, told PTI. "Normally, the reply needs to be given within seven days after accepting the notice," Pradeepkumar said. The committee issued notice to the ED after the Speaker said that Mathew's complaint was as per section 159 of the Kerala Legislative Assembly, Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is probing the alleged discrepancies in the Life Mission project after MLA Anil Akkara filed a complaint on July 20. Following this, the Enforcement Directorate, which is probing the money laundering angle in the Kerala gold smuggling case, is also now investigating alleged discrepancies on the Life Mission project. Recently, ED had told a special court in Kochi that arrested IAS officer M Sivasankar had shared confidential information regarding Life Mission and a few other government projects to key accused Swapna Suresh. However, the court had also asked how the angle is related to the money laundering case that the ED is probing.

MLA James Mathew said the Life Mission project was part of the Left government's policy that was assured by the Governor in his speech in the state Assembly.

"The ED's action seeking all the files of the project was tantamount to breach of legislative privilege as the government had promised the Assembly that the project would be completed in a speedy manner," Mathew told the media.

He said the complaints and allegations of corruption were raised in connection with the Wadakanchery Life Mission project but ED intervened in a manner that impedes all construction works across the state.

"The issue was relating to one particular project at Thrissur’s Wadakanchery but the ED has sought for the files of all Life Mission projects, hampering the works across Kerala. The promise given by the Chief Minister and the Left government to the Assembly was that the project will be completed and handed over to those eligible on time. However, the intervention from the agency will not allow this," Mathew said.

Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, however, justified ED’s actions and said that it is part of the probe. "The EDs investigation into an alleged money laundering case is not tantamount to breach of legislative privilege. The Speaker should withdraw the notice issued to the agency," Chennithala said.

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