LIFE (Livelihood, Inclusion, and Financial Empowerment) is a housing project governed by the Kerala Government for the benefits of the homeless and poor. The issue arose with the project as the legislator of the Congress Party, Anil Akkara filed a complaint before the CBI on September 20 against the LIFE project alleging that it has been funded from the Foreign funding like UAE Red Crescent which is a clear case of violation of Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA). After four days of investigation, CBI registered a FIR against the Managing Directors of Unitac and Sane Ventures as accused number one and two respectively under Section 35 read, Section 3 of FCRA and Section 120B of the IPC.
Opposing to suc, the state government of Kerala has filed a petition in the High court for quashing the FIR lodged against the accused stating that the CBI has no right to file an FIR without informing the state government in the consent matter. The CBI needs sanction from the government to investigate in such a matter and should inform the government of India before lodging an FIR under FCRA regulation. The government agency also argued that FCRA was not applicable in this matter regarding the government agencies are exempted from such act.
Senior Advocate K V Viswanathan on behalf of the LIFE mission submitted that the project did not receive any kind of foreign funding from UAE Red Crescent and the funding was provided to the private contractors which is not a case of FCRA and the project can’t be booked for an FIR under the FCRA act. CBI’s standing counsel, Sasthamangalam S Ajithkumar contended that the funding to the private contractors is a distraction to avoid the corruption which included many government high-rank officials and other politicians that might be a direct link up to the gold smuggling case.
A bench of Justice V G Arun of Kerala High Court passed a stay order on the CBI investigation on the LIFE mission project for two months concluding that the LIFE mission has not received any kind of foreign money for empowering the project further and quashed the FIR lodged by CBI against the Managing Director of Unitac stating that it was not a case to be booked under FCRA act as CBI was not able to produce adequate evidence for such.
The court ordered implies that: -
"Undisputedly, LIFE Mission has not received any foreign contribution directly from the sponsor (UAE Red Crescent). The persons to whom the currency was delivered by the builders having accepted it on the assurance that it will be utilized for getting the requisite clearances and permits, the builders have to be attributed with the knowledge of the possibility of such currency, or at least a portion of it, being delivered to public servants or government employees. As such, registration of crime against Santhosh Eappen warrants no interference at this stage.”