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A Single Bench of Justice VG Arun of the Kerala High Court today refused to stay the investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the LIFE Mission Case.
The LIFE Mission is an initiative by the Kerala Government to provide shelter and housing to the homeless, particularly those whose homes were ravaged by the floods of 2018.
The Chief Executive Officer of 'LIFE Mission' project, UV Jose, approached the High Court seeking a quash on the CBI’s FIR registered against him over alleged FCRA violations in the alleged receipt of funding from UAE.
The Court refused to stay proceedings against him, deferring the further hearings in the matter to next week.
In the FIR lodged in respect of investigations, the CBI alleges that the State Government obtained funds from the Red Crescent, United Arab Emirates, which were transferred to Unitac Builders and Sane Constructions, in violation of FCRA norms.
In doing so, Section 3(c) of the Act was invoked. The provision bars Government Bodies or Government-Controlled Bodies from receiving foreign contributions.
Vehemently refuting these averments, LIFE Mission claimed that Unitac received funding from Red Crescent for construction on one of the plots under the LIFE Mission Project.
Appearing for the Life Mission CEO Jose, Senior Advocate KV Vishwanathan stated that the State Government had no role in the agreement between Red Crescent, UAE and private contractors Unitac and Sane constructions.
The Counsel for the CBI, Sasthamangalam Ajithkumar averred that though the argument was attractive, it could not be countenanced since the transactions clearly took place after a Memorandum of Understanding was filed between the Government of Kerala and the United Arab Emirates.
Specifically arguing against the Notice issued by the CBI summoning Jose for questioning, Senior Advocate Vishwanathan claimed that the exercise would result in "paralysis setting in" on the part of the State's officers. This would sap morale, he said.
To this, the CBI’s counsel responded that Notices could be issued under Section 91 of the Code of Criminal Procedure or under Section 116, to summon witnesseses, the accused, or for the production of documents.
Vishwanathan then prayed that no coercive action be taken against his client, who was a public servant. This would be a camouflaged anticipatory bail application, the CBI’s Counsel countered.
At this point, Justice VG Arun in passing, urged the Vishwanathan to advise his client to cooperate with the investigation.
During the exchange, the Counsel for Unitac briefly appeared on screen submitting that there was in fact an independent agreement entered into between the Red Crescent and his client.
In view of the detailed hearing required, Justice VG Arun deferred further hearings to October 8, 2020.