CBI seeks Life Mission documents, issues notice to CEO 

Thiruvananthapuram / Kochi: The CBI has issued a notice to Life Mission CEO U V Jose asking him to produce documents related to the housing project. It has said that six documents have to be delivered to the agency’s office in Kochi on October 5 at 11 am either directly by him or through officials. The CBI plans to start interrogating him after collecting the documents.

Officials of the Vigilance Department called Life Mission employees from their homes and seized files relating to the scheme at night after receiving a tip-off that a CBI probe will be initiated. Now, the CBI has asked Life Mission officials themselves to get the files back.

Life Mission officials, however, are perplexed not knowing how to hand over the documents to the CBI when they are in the possession of the CBI.

If they demand the Vigilance Department to return the files, they will get a call from the chief minister’s seeking an explanation. And if they don’t provide the files to the CBI, they will have to give an explanation to the agency why.

The Life Mission has the receipt obtained from the Vigilance Department for the files. It is now planning to hand this and copies of the demanded documents to the CBI.

The MoU between the Red Crescent and Life Mission is the most important of the documents requested by the CBI. The CBI notice has also said that while delivering the documents, Life Mission should send an official who will be capable of providing explanations to questions about them. It will interrogate U V Jose in the second phase.

Life Mission district coordinator, municipality secretary questioned

The CBI on Tuesday questioned the Life Mission’s coordinator for Thrissur district Linse David, who is in charge of overseeing the housing project at Wadakkanchery, and Wadakkanchery municipality secretary Mohammad Anas. 

They were questioned to find out how the construction contract awarded to Habitat, a government-recognised agency, was later handed over to Unitac. Neither the Life Mission’s district coordinator nor the municipal secretary was able to give clear answers to many questions of the inquiry team, a source said.

State govt outraged with CBI probe, studying legal options

Although the Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, and state government agencies have denied Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala’s allegation that the state is planning legislation to remove the CBI from investigating the Life Mission scheme, there are indications that the government is considering legal options. The chief minister has not denied that the state is studying them.

The CPM and the government are outraged because the CBI registered a case and started investigations into alleged violation of Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act in the Life Mission’s Wadakkanchery project without informing the state.

While the law department has refuted the Opposition leader's allegation that it is considering an ordinance against the CBI investigation, there is a strong feeling that the government can deny permission to the agency if a political decision is made in this connection.

The other possibility is that the government could approach the court seeking quashing of the CBI FIR in the case.

The CBI probes corruption cases in the country under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act. Since such investigations require the permission of state governments, most of the states, including Kerala, have given the agency a general approval in advance. Legal experts, however, say that Kerala can withdraw this permission. The state government will take a decision after consulting the law department.

Any law against the CBI will be brought only on the basis of consultations, LDF convener A Vijayaraghavan said after a meeting of the Front’s leadership. He said the Front would surely oppose the CBI if it acts against the interests of the state.     

No legislation under consideration: CM 

The government has so far not considered enacting any legislation to deny permission for a CBI probe in the state, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said.

He was responding to the Opposition leader's allegation that the government was trying to issue an ordinance to thwart the CBI probe into the Life Mission housing scam.

When asked about the CBI notice issued to Life Mission CEO UV Jose, the chief minister said, “Let the CBI do its job.”