The Pinarayi Vijayan government suffered a serious setback in the Life Mission case when the Kerala High Court rejected its joint plea against the CBI inquiry into the controversial housing project in which commission worth crores of rupees was paid by the successful contractor company.
The co-petitioner was the managing director of the contracting company himself. The court also threw out the state government’s plea to make the state government a party to the case. The plea on behalf of the government was moved by the CEO of Life Mission.
With Tuesday’s verdict, the court also vacated a two-month temporary stay it had ordered for investigating the office of the Life Mission CEO, pending a final decision on the plea by CBI, which approached the court, complaining that the stay was interfering with its investigations. Even though the court had stayed the investigations, it had upheld the validity of the CBI’s FIR, which gave the central investigating agency to go back to the court.
The HC order comes in the wake of the court’s finding prima facie there are grounds for suspicion in the deal, part of the state govt’s prestigious scheme for building houses for the poor.
The court found that senior bureaucrats, led by M Sivasankar, the former principal secretary of the chief minister, had plotted to defraud the scheme, in which Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair, prime accused in the gold smuggling case, were also involved.
The state government had maintained that it had nothing to do with the controversial deal, which according to it, was entered into between the UAE charity that provided funding for the project and the contractor. The deal is also under the scanner of the ED for possible havala operations in which the gold smuggling accused are believed to have facilitated the movement of dollars outside India using diplomatic channels.
With a loss of face, the state government is examining the possibility of approaching the Supreme Court against the single-judge verdict.