LIFE Mission project: respond to Kerala plea to quash FIR, SC directs CBI

The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to respond to an appeal filed by the Kerala government to quash an FIR registered by the premier investigative agency into alleged irregularities in the implementation of the LIFE Mission housing project.

Appearing before a Bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan, senior advocate K.V. Vishwanathan and advocate G. Prakash, for Kerala, accused the Centre through the CBI of “circumventing federal structure to get a foothold in the State’s domain”.

“Life Mission is a housing project to tide over the unimaginable loss caused by flood. Houses are given free-of-cost How does the CBI enter here? The Chief Minister is heading the project,” Mr. Vishwanathan submitted.

The senior advocate argued that the CBI could investigate a State issue only if there was a High Court order to do so or if consent had been received under Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act or if a Central statute applied.

The Bench issued a limited notice to the CBI on the question of quashing the FIR. It listed the case after four weeks.

The High Court had earlier rejected the State government’s plea to quash the CBI’s FIR.

In fact, the High Court had observed that the facts revealed “a high-profile intellectual fraud played” to avoid audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General and get kickbacks and gratification.

In its petition, the State, through LIFE Mission, said the project was exempted under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.

Mr. Prakash said the State government had not received any funds directly from abroad.

He said the State had contended that the charges in the FIR were “wholly malicious, baseless”, and fuelled by “ulterior political motives”.

It has argued that there was nothing suspicious in the project. The Vigilance and Anti-corruption Bureau was already conducting an investigation into alleged corruption in the LIFE Mission housing project. The registration of cases by the CBI, transgressing into the States’ power, was a challenge to the very federal structure envisaged by the Constitution.

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Printable version | Mar 4, 2021 3:13:59 AM |

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