CBI FIR in LIFE Mission case malicious, State submits in HC

The State government on Thursday submitted before the Kerala High Court that the charges in the FIR lodged by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with the Livelihood Inclusion and Financial Empowerment (LIFE) Mission project were wholly malicious, baseless, and fuelled by ulterior political motives. It was aimed at sabotaging the functioning of the mission as well as conducting a roving inquiry against the State government officials.

The submission was made when a petition filed by U.V. Jose, Chief Executive Officer, LIFE Mission and Santhosh Eappen, managing director of Unitac, a contracting company and the first accused in the case, seeking to quash the FIR came up for hearing.

During the hearing, the court asked whether any document relating to the handing over of the government land for the construction of LIFE Mission housing project in Wadakkancherry, Thrissur, was available. The court also asked whether any procedure was followed while allocating the government land for the project. The court also wanted to know how the IAS officer had allowed the agency to construct a building on government land based on a third-party agreement in which the LIFE Mission was not a party.

“Prima facie it appears that there was something fishy. The government will have to answer,” the court observed orally.

‘Nothing suspicious’

Senior Supreme Court lawyer and former Additional Solicitor General V.K. Viswanathan appearing for the government submitted that there was nothing suspicious in the project. The Vigilance and Anti-corruption Bureau (VACB) was already conducting an investigation into the alleged irregularities in the LIFE Mission housing project.

The LIFE Mission had so far been successful in providing 2,50,000 houses to the marginalised sections.

The project at Wadakkancherry was funded by the UAE Red Crescent, a charitable organisation. The contractual agreement for the construction of the buildings there was executed between the Consular General of the United Arab Emirate and Unitac, a construction company. It was the sponsors which had selected Unitac and Sane Ventures for giving contract for constructing the buildings under the project. Neither the State government nor the LIFE Mission had any role in the selection of contractors. In fact, the funds were never transferred to any government account, but was directly transferred to the accounts of Unitac and Sane Ventures.

Links to gold smuggling

High Court senior lawyer K. Ramkumar who appeared for the Centre submitted that the central agencies had begun investigations into the issues on the basis of a letter sent by the Chief Minister to the Prime Minister of India seeking a probe into the gold smuggling and connected cases. The LIFE Mission case was linked to the diplomatic channel gold smuggling case. The accused in the gold smuggling had received kickbacks to ensure that the project was awarded to Unitac.

The hearing on the case was adjourned to December 21.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2021 1:37:07 PM |

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