In a first for Kerala, the Supreme Court on Thursday convicted a former minister in a corruption case and sentenced him to one-year imprisonment.
A bench of justice PS Athasivam and BS Chauhan reversed the Kerala high court verdict acquitting ex-power minister R Balakrishnan Pillai and two others in the decades-old Idamalayar dam corruption case.
The case, filed in 1991, related to kickbacks received while awarding contracts for the construction of the Idamalyar dam in Idduki district in 1982, when Balakrishnan Pillai was state power minister. The court found Pillai guilty of having caused the Kerala State Electricity Board a loss of Rs 2 crore by awarding contracts at inflated rates.
Balakrishnan Pillai (76) who heads a splinter group of the Kerala Congress - the Kerala Congress (B) (after Balakrishnan) - was stoic in his response and said he would not move a review petition. "My conscience is clear," he said from Kottarakkara, 75 km north of Thiruvananthapuram. "I'm innocent. Kerala chief minister Achuthanandan has been after me for 25 years. It is political vendetta. Let him be happy now."
It was indeed Achuthanandan who had been doggedly pursuing the case and had personally filed the Supreme Court appeal against the high court decision.
Understandably jubilant, he said: "It's a lesson for those who loot the country."
In a season of political scams coming to light, the judges also observed that corruption cases relating to political personalities had been dragging endlessly, and directed all trial courts in the country hearing such cases to dispose of them as quickly as possible.