Thiruvananthapuram, Oct 13 (PTI) Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday said those who tried to 'block the dreams of around 150 families' would be unhappy to learn about the interim stay granted by the High Court in the CBI probe against the CEO of LIFE Mission,a state government initiative.
He said the High Court order is a reply to 'those who create dubious allegations and unnecessary campaigns.' In a relief to the Left government, the Kerala High Court stayed for two months the CBI probe against the CEO in a FCRA case and said neither FCRA provisions nor material on record justify arraying the Life Mission as an accused.
The court also said neither the Life Mission nor the builders fall under the purview of Section 3 (1) of the FCRA.
However, Justice V G Arun allowed CBI to continue its probe against the Managing Director of Unitac, a private firm awarded the contract for construction of the houses in Wadakkanchery Municipality.
'Those who tried to block the dream of around 150 families might be unhappy with the stay in the matter,' Vijayan said.
Asked about the similar contentions raised by the Congress and the BJP against the Life Mission project, Vijayan said, 'birds of a feather flock together.' 'The birds of the same feather flock together and it's a problem that they will have to deal with,' Vijayan said.
'...The high court has said it's undisputed that the Life Mission has not received any foreign contribution.
It also said that neither Life Mission nor the builders fall under the purview of Section 3 (1) of the FCRA,' the chief minister said.
He also pointed out to paragraph 18 of the order and said neither the FCRA provisions nor the material on record justify arraying Life Mission as an accused.
'I am not commenting on a matter, which is under consideration of the court.
However, the high court order has the reply to those who create a smokescreen with dubious allegations and unnecessary campaigns in the public sphere,' Vijayan said.
The Congress and BJP earlier in the day said the high court had refused to quash the FIR, as sought by the government.
'There is nothing to behappy about the order. The government tried to stop the CBI probe, but failed,' Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala said in a statement.
BJP state president K Surendran said the high court did not quash the CBI FIR, 'nor stay the CBI probe into the Life Mission scam'.
'Undisputedly, Life Mission has not received any foreign contribution directly from the sponsor,' the Court said,adding that the amount received by the private companies towards construction cost is exempted under provisions of the FCRA.
The High Court said Life Mission or the buildersdo not fall under any of the categories under the FCRA provision.
It granted the interim stay on a plea by Life Mission CEO U V Jose, challenging the registration of the FIR by the central agency against unknown officials of Life Mission.
The case against the firm and others was registered on a complaint by Congress MLA Anil Akkara, alleging violation of provisions of the FCRA in acceptance of funds from a UAE aid agency for executing the housing project for the poor.
Akkara, representing Wadakkancherry,contended that acceptance of funds by Unitac Builders and Developers and Sane Ventures LLP from Red Crescent, the UAE-based aid agency, with 'concurrence' of LIFE Mission, was illegal and in violation of provisions of the FCRA.
Based on the complaint, an FIR was registered by the CBI for offences under IPC Section 120B (punishment of criminal conspiracy) read with Section 3 of the FCRA against Unitac Builders and Developers MD Santosh Eappen, Sane Ventures LLP, unknown officials of LIFE Mission Kerala and others.
Jose and Eappen filed separate pleas for quashing the CBI case, alleging that it was registered in a hasty manner.
During the hearings, LIFE Mission had submitted the complaint does not even make out a case prima facie the registration of the case 'in hasty manner' indicated a deliberate attempt to malign the state government.
The alleged FCRA violation had snowballed into a major political issue with opposition parties alleging that Swapna Suresh, a key accused in the gold smuggling case, had admitted before an NIA court that she had received Rs one crore ascommission from the project.
Opposition parties have alleged there was corruption involved in selection of the contractor by Red Crescent.
LIFE Mission (The Livelihood, Inclusion and Financial Empowerment Mission), a programme to provide secure and adequate housing to all landless and homeless families, was launched by the LDF government on September 28, 2016.
The project contemplates construction of housing units by utilising government funds, sponsorships, and funds of local self-government institutions.
In early 2017, the Emirates Red Crescent, the volunteer humanitarian organisation, affiliated to the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, expressed willingness to provide about Rs 20 crore financial assistance for the construction of homes for the victims of the Kerala floods and also a health centre.
A total of 2.17 acres of land belonging to Wadakkanchery Municipality was made available for construction of the dwelling units and the health centre.
Thereafter, construction agreements were executed between the UAE consul general,Unitac Builders and Developers and Sane Ventures on July 31 2019 for 140 apartments of 500 sq ft each, and a mother and children health care centre with a total area of 4,000 sq ft. PTI RRT TGB APR RAVINDRANATH APR RAVINDRANATH