Sunday, December 3, 2023

FCRA violation: Kerala High Court declines to vacate stay on CBI probe into state govt’s LIFE Mission project

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New Delhi (ILNS): The Kerala High Court has rejected the CBI’s plea to vacate the interim stay on the probe into the alleged Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) violations in the state government’s LIFE Mission project.

The court recently stayed for two months further proceedings in the investigation against the LIFE Mission CEO even as it allowed the CBI to go ahead with the probe against Santhosh Eappen, MD of Unitac, a contracting company and the first accused in the case.

A Single Bench of Justice PV Kunhikrishnan has said that the court cannot consider such a demand without the CBI even filing a counter affidavit in the petitions filed by LIFE Mission CEO and others. The order said:

“It is a fact that no counter affidavit is filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation in this case. They also admitted that, they want to file a counter affidavit in this case. In such situation, the early posting petition need not be considered at this stage.”

Senior Advocate KV Vishwanathan, appearing for the Kerala government, has submitted that “the early posting petition was filed only to get the attention of the press.”

The counsel on behalf of the CBI has asserted that the stay issued on October 13 is affecting the investigation and it is not able to ascertain the roles of government officials or summon files related to the LIFE Mission foreign aid case.

The court asked the CBI whether it had filed a counter-affidavit in the case. The counsel for the CBI has informed the court that an affidavit had been prepared and sent to the CBI Director for approval.

While allowing the CBI to file a counter, the Court ordered:

“After filing the counter and after getting the convenient date of the learned Additional Solicitor General of India, the Central Bureau of Investigation can file a fresh petition for early posting of this case. Therefore, Crl.M.A.No.5 of 2020 is dismissed.”

Earlier, an FIR was registered by the CBI, for offences under Section 120 B of IPC and Section 3 of the FCRA on the basis of a complaint by Congress MLA Anil Akkara alleging Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) violations in acceptance of funds from a UAE based humanitarian agency Red Crescent, naming Santosh Eappen and unknown officials of the Life Mission.

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On October 13, the same court stayed for two months the CBI probe against the CEO of LIFE Mission, over alleged FCRA violations in respect of funds received from a foreign sponsor for construction of dwelling units in Thrissur district.

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