Dismissing the Kerala government’s plea to stop the Central Bureau of Investigation’s probe into alleged Life Mission irregularities, the Kerala High Court has removed the stay and allowed the agency to continue its investigation. This has come as a slap on the face of the CPM-led government, as the agency will continue its investigation into the project as well as Unitac Builders CEO UV Jose. Justice VG Arun, who had heard the primary arguments in the case in October, had made the ruling.
The plea to stop the CBI probe was jointly filed by the state government and Unitac Builders Managing Director Santhosh Eapen. They pleaded the HC, citing that the project has not violated the Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Act and their project at Wadakkancherry is aimed at providing homes to the poor. They added that the investigation is politically motivated and everything is above board and the Vigilance department is already probing the bribery allegations. Regarding the payments received, the government claimed that all receipts are as per contracts.
However, the CBI argued that the Vigilance investigation into the employees involved with the project is proof that there are irregularities. Moreover, the Bureau claimed that the agreement signed between the parties has been used as a smokescreen to cover up auditing.
Earlier, the Enforcement Directorate had claimed that the Rs 1 crore found in Swapna Suresh’s lockers is a commission given to Sivasankar by Unitac in the Life Mission project. The ED had alleged that Sivasankar — former Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan — had received the commission after assigning 26 of the 28 projects to just two companies. In their previous affidavit to the HC, they claimed that Swapna Suresh has admitted to the money being a commission for Sivasankar. The Directorate added that it was why the locker was jointly owned by Sivasankar’s chartered accountant P Venugopal and Swapna.