CPI(M) suggestion to withdraw general consent to CBI in Kerala draws flak from opposition

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By: PTI | Thiruvananthapuram | October 24, 2020 5:39:17 pm

Kanam Rajendran, CPI(M) chiefThe governments of Maharashtra, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh recently withdrew the general consent to the Central Bureau of Investigation.

A suggestion by the ruling CPI(M) to withdraw the general consent to the CBI in Kerala drew flak from the opposition Congress and BJP on Saturday, which alleged it was to hide ‘rampant corruption’ of the Left government.

However, state law minister A K Balan pointed out that Congress ruled states had withdrawn consent for the CBI and even their party leader Rahul Gandhi had made similar statements.

The proposal was welcomed by the ruling Left Democratic Front’s major ally CPI, whose leader Kanam Rajendran said no one was against a probe by any central agency, “but using them as a tool for political gains and to create a smokescreen till the upcoming elections was not right.”

The Congress, however, said the state government was ‘afraid’ of the CBI. The suggestion was made at a recent meeting of the CPI(M) state secretariat here.

The law minister on Saturday said states other than those ruled by the Congress were also planning to withdraw the consent to the probe agency. “The CPI(M) suggested to move in that direction and a similar opinion was expressed by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi too,” he told reporters.

The governments of Maharashtra, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh recently withdrew the general consent to the Central Bureau of Investigation. The consent is akin to a blanket nod for the agency to probe scheduled offences specified in the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act (DPSE) Act, 1946.

The CBI also lacks a “general consent” from Mizoram.

Unlike the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which has countrywide jurisdiction to take over any case related to terrorism, the CBI requires the consent of the state government concerned under Section 6 of the DPSE Act, the law that governs the agency’s functioning.

Union Minister V Muraleedharan told reporters here that the CBI probe into the corruption allegation in the Life Mission project had forced the Kerala government to take a stand against the agency. He also alleged that the move was to hide the ‘rampant corruption’ of the Left government.

Congress state chief Mullappally Ramachandran said the state government was ‘afraid’ of the CBI probe.

“The Kerala government is afraid of the CBI. They should make it clear whether they have the same stance with regard to the CBI at the national level too,” he told reporters.

On October 13, the Kerala High Court had stayed for two months the CBI probe into alleged irregularities, including of Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, in Life Mission, a state housing project envisaging total housing for the homeless.

The opposition has alleged that there was corruption in selection of the contractor by Red Crescent, an international humanitarian organisation and that Swapna Suresh, a key accused in the gold smuggling case,had admitted before an NIA court to having received Rs one crore as commission from the project.

Red Crescent had agreed to provide Rs 20 crore funds towards the Life Mission scheme.

Life Mission had submitted before the court that the two companies which had signed an agreement with Red Crescent do not come under categories of persons prohibited from receiving any foreign contribution under an act of the FCRA.

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