The Kerala High Court today gave permission to the CBI to continue its probe in the alleged violation of the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act or FCRA in the state government's flagship "Life Mission" project, which aims at providing housing for the poor.
The court had earlier stayed the probe. Today's order came as the court rejected the petitions filed by Chief Executive Officer of LIFE Mission as well as the Managing Director of Unitac, seeking to dismiss the first information report (FIR) filed by the CBI.
The High Court, however, has also stated that criminal liability cannot be extended to political executive merely because they took a policy decision.
"In the instant case, it appears that all the mischief was done at the time of implementation of part of the project "Life Mission" by the permanent members attached to it - the IAS officers with Swapna Suresh, Sandeep Nair, Sarith, Santhosh Eapen and their allies. Mere fact that policy decisions were taken by the Chief Minister, the ministers or the legislature, may not be in itself sufficient to extend criminal liability against them for the wrong done by the non-political executive attached with the project or their allies," the court said. Swapna Suresh, Sarith and Sandeep Nair are accused in a case of smuggling of gold through diplomatic channels.
The court mentioned the situation would've been different "if (the) matter has been brought to their (political executive's) notice with its legal consequences in writing or they have obtained a personal benefit with knowledge of mischief done."
Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala reacted to the verdict on social media saying, "Hon. High Court quashing the State Govt appeal against CBI probe into "Life mission" scam is a slap on the face of @vijayanpinarayi who chairs Life Mission."
The FIR into probing Life Mission was registered based on complaint of UDF MLA Anil Akkara.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had earlier stated that there have not been any FCRA violations in the contract involving Life Mission, slamming the Congress-led UDF in it's, "attempt to derail development".
The Chief Minister has also hit out at the central agencies in the past, alleging they were being used to destabilise state governments ruled by opposition parties.