Published On: Wed, May 25th, 2022

CBI gets active again in Vijayan’s controversial Life Mission project

Thiruvananthapuram: After a hiatus, the CBI on Wednesday decided to reopen the case of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s pet project, Life Mission, which had come under the scanner of the CBI and the ED due to alleged wrong doings but was lying in the cold storage of these national agencies.

The case surfaced after the gold smuggling case came to light in June 2020 in which Sivasankar was jailed

The case involves the alleged violation of foreign contributions regulations in the Kerala government’s flagship Life Mission project. This project intends to provide homes to the poor who lost their houses in the devastating floods of 2018. The project at Wadakancherry in Trissur district then came under a cloud.

The CBI arrested Unitac builder Santhosh Eapen besides questioning top government officials, including the powerful senior IAS officer M. Sivasankar who was then Principal Secretary to Vijayan.

The case surfaced after the gold smuggling case came to light in June 2020 in which Sivasankar was jailed.

The prime accused in the gold smuggling case included Swapna Suresh and Sarith both of whom were employed in the UAE Consulate. Later it was revealed that they had a role in Life Mission funds misappropriation too.

The state government had approached the Kerala High Court to stop the probe, but it dismissed the pleas and said that an ongoing CBI probe should continue in the case involving senior government officers and contractors.

The Kerala government counsel and Supreme Court’s Senior Advocate KK Vishwanathan argued in the court of Justice P. Somarajan that a CBI probe could not be carried out in the case as statutory bodies are exempted from the provisions of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.

The state’s lawyer argued that the go-ahead for the CBI probe would lead to a policy paralysis and the High Court should prevent it.

On the other hand, CBI counsel Sasthamangalam Ajithkumar argued that the project Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was not very specific and it could be believed to be an eyewash.

The CBI argued that private company Unitac, carrying out construction on behalf of a Kerala government body did not get the contract through a tender.

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