Kerala plans to withdraw general consent given to probe agency CBI
After withdrawing the consent given under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, the CBI can’t file fresh FIRs but it will not affect the ongoing investigations, legal experts said.Updated: Oct 25, 2020, 21:40 IST
The Kerala government is planning to withdraw the general consent given to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) like five other opposition-ruled states. The immediate trigger is the way the central agency took up the Life Mission project case without informing the state government.
“The state is seriously considering it. Many states have already withdrawn the consent. There are allegations that the agency is being used to settle political scores. Many states do complain that it is interfering in issues where it has no jurisdiction. We also want to protect the state’s interests,” said state law minister A K Balan. Last week, the Maharashtra government had withdrawn the general consent given to the agency.
After withdrawing the consent given under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, the CBI can’t file fresh FIRs but it will not affect the ongoing investigations, said legal experts. Earlier Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan also withdrew consent to the central agency. But in Kerala, opposition Congress and BJP criticized the move saying it was intended to save many in the government allegedly involved in Life Mission project kickbacks.
Two weeks back the state government had to rush to the High Court to quash a CBI probe into the Life Mission project and the court had stayed it for two months. A scheme to build free dwelling units for the homeless, irregularities came to light when central agencies were probing the gold smuggling case. When lockers of the main accused in the smuggling case Swapna Suresh were opened they got Rs one crore cash and two kg gold. Later, she reportedly told the agencies that this was the commission she received for clinching a deal with an international aid agency ‘Red Crescent’ which funded the Life Mission project in Vadakancherry in Thrissur district.
Later a news channel controlled by the CPI (M) came out with more revelations claiming Rs 4 crore was paid as commission in the Rs 20 crore project. It also came to light that permission of the Union government was not obtained for accepting foreign contribution. The anti-corruption unit of the CBI had registered a case last month under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA). But the state government maintained that it will not come under the purview of the FCRA and moved the court to quash the case.
The Congress and BJP alleged that there were huge kickbacks in the project so the state government was opposing the CBI probe. But the LDF said the Union Government was using the central agency to discredit the state government.
“Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said two days ago in Wayanad that central agencies were misused to target political opponents. How can the state Congress take such a position?” asked CPI (M) leader A Ananthan.
State opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said the move was aimed at stopping the central agency reaching the CM’s office. “Even a child can make out that huge corruption took place in the Life Mission project. The government is using all means to prevent a central agency probe which will help unravel kickbacks,” he said. Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan also criticised the move. “CM Pinarayi Vijayan is scared the truth will come out but people will realise the government’s designs,” he said.