Vijayan’s Lavalin plea in SC, spawns larger legal issues
The Supreme Court on Monday admitted Kerala CPM leader Pinarayi Vijayan’s petition, questioning the validity of the state governor’s nod to the CBI to charge him in the Lavalin corruption case.delhi Updated: Sep 01, 2009 00:21 IST
The Supreme Court on Monday admitted Kerala CPM leader Pinarayi Vijayan’s petition, questioning the validity of the state governor’s nod to the CBI to charge him in the Lavalin corruption case.
Issuing notices to the CBI and the Kerala government, the court said Vijayan’s lawsuit had flagged off wide-ranging legal issues, including influences a political party’s head wield on a government and whether courts could decide on such matters in the first place, once a governor had taken a decision.
Vijayan has challenged Governor R.S. Gavai’s permission to the CBI to charge him on the grounds that the governor disregarded the opinion of the state government that he was innocent.
Vijayan’s lawyer Fali S. Nariman cited a previous Constitution Bench judgment, which ruled that a governor had no discretionary powers to act on his own.
The state government had advised the governor not to grant permission to the probe agency, as the advocate-general had not found any case against Vijayan, Nariman told the court.
The CBI had sought to name Vijayan — who is state chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan’s bete noir — in its chargesheet, accusing him of wrongdoing in the Rs 390-crore contract to the Canadian power firm, SNC Lavalin Inc, to renovate three hydropower projects.
Vijayan, who heads Kerala CPM, was power minister when the deal was struck.
The case plunged the Kerala CPM into crisis with Achuthanandan refusing to accept his party’s stand that the case against Vijayan was “politically motivated”.
He was sacked from the CPM Politburo on July 12.
The SC bench, comprising Justices R.V. Raveendran and B.S. Reddy, wondered if a government could be untouched by the influence of a ruling party’s chief and whether the CBI could directly approach the governor to prosecute a present or a former minister.