Kochi, Oct 15: The Central Bureau of Investigation on Thursday approached the Kerala High Court seeking vacation of the two months interim stay granted on its ongoing inquiry into the Life Mission housing project, a pet project of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
The petition would be taken up by the court on Monday.
The Vijayan government, which is facing heat from numerous central agencies, got relief on Tuesday when the court granted an interim stay for two months in the ongoing CBI inquiry, but Life Mission’s prayer to quash the CBI FIR was disallowed.
The high court stayed the CBI probe into the alleged Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act violation in the Vadakkanchery Life Mission housing project, but allowed detailed hearing in the case to continue as it sought to know the role of two private agencies — Unitac Builders and Sane Ventures, which secured the contract to build the flats at Wadakkancherry in Thrissur.
In their affidavit filed before the court on Tuesday, the CBI stated that serious investigations have to be undertaken to unearth the “deeper conspiracy” in the case.
“So the interim order has to be vacated in the interest of justice and the CBI is prepared to argue the whole case and the continuation of the interim stay is against interests of justice. Hence it is prayed that the case be posted for early and speedy disposal,” said the CBI in an affidavit.
The CBI probe was initiated on the petition of Congress’s Wadakkanchery legislator Anil Akkara.
Last month, the state government had sought legal advice and was told that the FIR registered can be quashed as it was illegal as the government had no role in the project, since the agreement for construction was between the UAE-based charity organisation Red Crescent, which is funding the construction of the flat project at Wadakkancherry, and Unitach Builders.
Senior IAS official and Life Mission CEO, U.V.Jose had appeared before the CBI with all the documents.
The Life Mission project, a pet project of Vijayan ever since he assumed the CM’s office in 2016, was floated to build houses for the homeless and landless, using funds raised through sponsorships. The state’s role was limited to only providing the land.
The project, however, ran into trouble when Akkara first raised questions about alleged wrong-doings in the building project in his constituency.
Though Vijayan had been maintaining that the state, apart from handing over land, had no role in the project, things began to change after the Kerala gold smuggling case surfaced.
This particular project was routed through the UAE Consulate, where smuggling case main accused Swapna Suresh and P.S. Sarith earlier worked. It turned murkier when news surfaced that a son of Industries Minister E.P. Jayarajan was also close to Swapna.
Vijayan’s media adviser John Brittas had claimed that Rs 4.25 crore in commission was paid in the project, a stand endorsed by two state Ministers also.
The CBI has already questioned Santhosh Eapen, whose company Unitac and Sane Ventures was given the contract to build the houses and a health centre.
Vijayan is the Chairman of Life Mission while his trusted aide and Local Self-Government Minister A.C. Moideen is the Vice Chairman. The project MoU was inked in Vijayan’s office.