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Life Mission project: Kerala HC to hear plea against CBI FIR

Thiruvananthapuram,  Life Mission on Wednesday moved the Kerala High Court to plead for the quashing of an “illegal” FIR registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation into its housing project at Thrissur.

The HC will hear the petition on Thursday.

The state government had taken advice on the matter from legal brains, who pointed out that the FIR could be quashed as it was illegal and that the government had no role in the matter.

The weekly Cabinet meeting earlier in the day discussed the issue and gave its nod to move the court.

Life Mission CEO UV Jose, a senior IAS officer, has been summoned to appear before the CBI with all the documents on October 5.

The Mission’s contention is that the agreement for the construction was inked between UAE-based charity Red Crescent, which is funding the construction at Wadakkancherry in Thrissur district, and Unitech Builders. The state has no role and hence the FIR is illegal and should be quashed, it added.

The latest development comes a day after Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala warned of legal and political steps against any move by the Vijayan government to bring an ordinance to keep the CBI out of the probe.

Experts, however, had said that there was very little scope for any favourable court order for the state since the CBI could take suo motu notice in the matter related to alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act. It did not require the state’s concurrence, they added.

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 Anil Akkara, a Congress legislator, first raised questions about alleged wrongdoings in a building project in his Wadakkancherry constituency, for which funds came from Red Crescent.

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.

The project was routed through the UAE Consulate, where smuggling case main accused Swapna Suresh and PS Sarith earlier worked. It turned murkier when news surfaced that a son of Industries Minister EP 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 was given the contract to build the houses.

Vijayan is Life Mission Chairman while his trusted aide and Local Self-Government Minister AC Moideen is the Vice-Chairman. Incidentally, the project MoU was inked in Vijayan’s office.

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