Kerala revokes general consent for CBI probes

Last week, the CPI(M) and CPI, leading constituents in the LDF, had urged the state government to consider withdrawing the general consent given to the CBI.
Pinarayi Vijayan

The CPI (M)-led government in Kerala Wednesday decided to withdraw the general consent given to the CBI to probe cases in the state and investigations will now be handed over only with special permission of the state.

The general consent had been given to the CBI as per a notification under Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946. Kerala has become the fifth state to withdraw general consent after Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh — all five are non-BJP states.

Last week, the CPI(M) and CPI, leading constituents in the LDF, had urged the state government to consider withdrawing the general consent given to the CBI.

What is said to have provoked the government is the CBI’s decision to probe into the alleged FCRA violations in an apartment project — part of the state’s Life Mission project — constructed with the funding of Emirates Red Crescent. The project had run into allegations of corruption after Swapna Suresh, a key accused in the gold smuggling case, reportedly told central agencies that she pocketed Rs 4.25 crore as kickbacks from the Rs 20-crore project.

The gold smuggling case has seen all central agencies troop to Kerala with the Life Mission scandal emerging as an offshoot to the smuggling case. The arrest of M Sivasankar, ex-principal secretary to the Chief Minister, in the smuggling case by ED has been a setback for the ruling coalition. Besides, the ED has also arrested CPI (M) state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan’s son Bineesh over a drug-related money laundering case.

CBI took over the probe based on a complaint from Congress legislator Anil Akkara at whose constituency Vadakkanchery the apartment complex is being built, days after the state Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau began a preliminary probe.

Kerala Law Minister A K Balan stated that by initiating a probe into the Life Mission project, the CBI had stepped into an area where it does not have jurisdiction.

BJP Kerala president K Surendran said, “CBI was banned in Kerala because CPI(M) feared that the CBI probe into the gold smuggling case and Life Mission project would reach doorsteps of CM Pinarayi Vijayan. The booty from smuggling was shared with his one-time confidante Sivasankar. CPI(M) state secretary and his son are facing grave allegations. Don’t think that CBI would pack up from Kerala. CPI(M) should realise that the Centre is not ruled by Congress.”

Pinarayi aide summoned by ED

Thiruvananthapuram: The ED, which is probing the money laundering aspect of the gold smuggling case, Wednesday summoned Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s additional private secretary C M Raveendran. A CPI (M) nominee, Raveendran enjoys considerable sway in the CMO.

“We will most likely submit a report in the court in Kochi Thursday which will justify our action,’’ an ED source said. The summons to Raveendran, a close confidante of Vijayan, comes soon after the arrest of the CM’s ex-principal secretary and the son of party state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan. —ENS

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