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Tuesday
October 2020
3:11 PM IST
News Headlines
ED grills Farooq Abdullah for six hours in JKCA graft case, People''s Alliance says it''s vendetta        NCW seeks explanation from Kamal Nath for his remarks against MP minister        Imran Khan incapable and clueless; betrayed people of Pakistan: Opposition leaders        Nawaz Sharif''s son-in-law arrested in Pakistan        Kerala''s Covid tally touches 3.33 lakh with 5,022 fresh cases        HC restrains Customs from arresting Sivasankar till Oct 23, suspended officer discharged from hospital        Buttler, bowlers guide RR to seven-wicket win over CSK        Punjab beat MI in second Super Over        Saina, Sindhu's biggest Graffiti in India unveiled        Trump leans into fear tactics in bid to win Midwest states        US polls: New Congress could have more Indian Americans to the House Advertisement        Active COVID-19 cases below 8 lakh for 2nd day in row; recovery rate 88.03 pc        Flood situation grim in parts of Telangana, Karnataka        Dalit woman gang-raped at gunpoint in UP        Army pressed into service in 4 flood-hit Karnataka dists; CM to undertake aerial survey        Pakistan pacer Umar Gul announces retirement from all forms of cricket        HDFC Bank Q2 net profit rises 16% to Rs 7,703 cr        Biden warns Trump wants to scrap health law        BJP govt has surrendered in front of criminals: Akhilesh        Rahul Gandhi, Capt Amarinder vow to force centre to revoke black farm laws        
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Main News
MISSION Kerala HC stays CBI probe against Life Mission CEO
 
Kochi: In a relief to the LDF government, the Kerala High Court on Tuesday stayed for two months the CBI probe against the CEO of LIFE Mission, a state housing project, over alleged FCRA violations in respect of funds received from a foreign sponsor for construction of dwelling units in Thrissur district. Justice V G Arun 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 Judge, however, allowed the CBI to continue its probe initiated against the Managing Director of Unitac, a private firm which has been awarded the contract for construction of the houses in Wadakkanchery Municipality. The case against the firm and others was registered on the basis of a complaint by Congress MLA Anil Akkara alleging violation of the provisions of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act in acceptance of funds from a UAE aid agency for executing the housing project for the poor. Akkara, representing Wadakkancherry constituency, in his complaint with the CBI''s unit here contended that acceptance of funds by Unitac Builders and Developers and Sane Ventures LLP from Red Crescent, the UAE-based aid agency, with the ''concurrence'' of the LIFE Mission, a Kerala government agency, was illegal and in violation of the provisions of the FCRA.

Based on the complaint, an FIR was registered by the CBI, for offences under Indian Penal Code Section 120B (punishment of criminal conspiracy) read with Section 3 of the FCRA against Unitac Builders and Developers Managing Director Santosh Eappen, Sane Ventures LLP and unknown officials of the 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, senior counsel for the 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.

He also referred two central government notifications issued in 2011 and 2020 to drive the point that the project has received exemption from the operation of all provisions of the FCRA. The standing counsel for CBI had claimed a conspiracy was hatched much before the MoU between Red Crescent and the Life Mission, to award the work to Unitac and Sane Ventures, which are only name lenders, and to siphon off the foreign contribution in the guise of kick backs to the officials at the UAE consulate. The CBI also contended that senior officials in the state government, including the then principal secretary to the chief minister, were parties to the conspiracy and further investigation was required to unravel the truth.

In the interim order, the Judge said the provisions of the FCRA and materials on record do not justify arraying of the LIFE Mission CEO as an accused in the case and granted interim stay of all further proceedings in the CBI case against him for two months. He, however, rejected the prayer for interim stay in the plea filed by Unitac Managing director, saying registration of case against him warranted no interference at this stage. 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 as commission from the project.

The opposition parties have alleged that there was corruption involved in the selection of the contractor by the Red Crescent. LIFE Mission (The Livelihood, Inclusion and Financial Empowerment Mission), an ambitious programme to provide secure and adequate housing facilities to all landless and homeless families in the state, 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.

The offer fructified through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) entered into between the general secretary of the UAE Red Crescent Authority and the Chief Executive Officer, Life Mission, on July 11, 2019. The MoU also contains provisions for execution of joint projects by the parties and ensures the independence and freedom of each party to contract with a third party, except in the context of executing the joint projects. Land belonging to the Wadakkanchery Municipality admeasuring 2.17 acres 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 last year 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.

Later, money to the tune of 40 per cent of the project cost was transferred to the two companies which began the construction with the concurrence of the Life Mission and under its supervision.


HC restrains Customs from arresting Sivasankar till Oct 23, suspended officer discharged from hospital
Army pressed into service in 4 flood-hit Karnataka dists; CM to undertake aerial survey
PM calls for speedy access to vaccines for citizens
Chirag claims he is Modi's 'Hanuman', BJP calls LJP leader 'vote katua'
Nitish behaved with my father haughtily, worked to defeat LJP nominees in LS polls: Chirag
No minister present, Punjab farmers boycott meeting on new farm laws
Govt to give Rs 12,000 cr interest-free 50-year loan to states for capital projects
SC notice to Centre on pleas against farm laws
Ladakh standoff: India, China hold 7th round of high-level military talks
Kerala adds 9,347 fresh cases, toll climbs to 1,003 with 25 fatalities
Moratorium period exceeding six months may result in vitiating overall credit discipline: RBI to SC
Bhima Koregaon: NIA files charge-sheet against eight people, Fr Stan Swamy sent to judicial custody
India reports 73,272 new coronavirus cases, 926 fresh fatalities
Gold Smuggling Case : Sivasankar appears before Customs officials for interrogation
Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan dead
COVID-19 cases in India cross 68-lakh mark
India's GDP expected to contract by 9.6 per cent this fiscal: World Bank
COVID-19: 72,049 new cases take India's virus tally to 67,57,131
Rhea Chakraborty gets bail, comes out of prison after 28 days
BJP says Nitish to be CM even if it outperforms JD(U)
KERALA NEWS
Kerala''s Covid tally touches 3.33 lakh with 5,022 fresh cases
 Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala on Monday recorded 7,469 recoveries and 5,022 new COVID-19 cases, pushing  
Jnanpith awardee Akkitham Achuthan Namboothiri dead
Kerala''s COVID-19 count crosses three lakh mark with 8,764 fresh cases
NCP welcomes Mani to LDF but not at cost of Pala seat
INTERNATIONAL NEWS
Imran Khan incapable and clueless; betrayed people of Pakistan: Opposition leaders
 Karachi: Prime Minister Imran Khan is "incapable and clueless", and his government is worse than a d
Nawaz Sharif''s son-in-law arrested in Pakistan
Trump leans into fear tactics in bid to win Midwest states
US polls: New Congress could have more Indian Americans to the House Advertisement
NATIONAL NEWS
ED grills Farooq Abdullah for six hours in JKCA graft case, People''s Alliance says it''s vendetta
 Srinagar: The Enforcement Directorate on Monday questioned National Conference president Farooq Abdu
NCW seeks explanation from Kamal Nath for his remarks against MP minister
Active COVID-19 cases below 8 lakh for 2nd day in row; recovery rate 88.03 pc
Flood situation grim in parts of Telangana, Karnataka
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