Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 25
The Supreme Court on Monday asked the CBI to respond to Kerala government’s petition challenging an order of the state high court allowing a probe by the central agency into alleged corruption in the Life Mission Project which aimed to achieve total housing for the homeless.
A Bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan issued notice to the CBI and asked the agency to respond to the petition filed by the CEO of Life Mission Project in four weeks.
On behalf of the petitioner, senior advocate KV Vishwanathan said government projects were exempted under the Foreign Contribution Regulations Act and that the CBI probe was contrary to the spirit of federalism.
Vishwanathan said the CBI needs either the sanction of the State government or an order of the court to investigate a crime within the jurisdiction of the State.
He said that under the pretext of corruption and FCRA violations, CBI has been conducting a roving inquiry on completely baseless allegations.
On January 12, the Kerala High Court had dismissed a petition challenging the CBI investigation into alleged irregularities in the project which is a massive housing campaign to build houses for families without land or housing.
The CBI had registered an FIR for alleged offences of criminal conspiracy and under the provisions of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 on a complaint by Congress MLA Anil Akkara, listing Santhosh Eappen, Managing Director of Unitac Builder, as main accused and Sane Ventures as second accused.
In another case, the Bench refused to entertain a plea seeking directions to the Centre, the West Bengal government and the Election Commission to ensure “free, peaceful, safe and fair” assembly polls scheduled this year in the state and a CBI probe into alleged killings of political activists by TMC workers.
Another Bench headed by SK Kaul dismissed YS Jagan Mohan Reddy government’s appeal against the Andhra Pradesh High Court’s order upholding the State Election Commission decision to hold gram Panchayat elections in the state.
“We cannot be part of this ego battle (between state government and state election commission),” the Bench said.
The AP government had sought postponement of Panchayat polls due to the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination drive.
“We will not interfere with the decision of the State Election Commission,” it said, noting elections have been held in far more difficult conditions and successfully.