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Lavalin graft case: CBI to move SC against Kerala HC verdict exonerating Vijayan

Under fire for dragging its feet in filing an appeal against a Kerala high court verdict discharging chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan in the SNC Lavalin scam, the CBI has decided to move the Supreme Court.

india Updated: Nov 05, 2017 17:22 IST
Ramesh Babu
Ramesh Babu
Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram
SNC Lavalin,Graft,Pinarayi Vijayan
In August, the Kerala high court discharged chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan in the SNC Lavalin case in which the Canadian power giant was awarded a contract in 1996 to renovate three hydel projects in which the state allegedly lost Rs 374 crore. Vijayanwas then the power minister.(PTI)

The Central Bureau of Investigation will move the Supreme Court against the Kerala high court verdict giving a clean chit to chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan in SNC Lavalin scam, a 21-year-old corruption case even as the Congress claimed that there was a ‘secret understanding’ between the BJP and the CPI (M) .

The CBI will move the petition in two weeks, said sources close to the investigating agency. After the high court verdict the CBI counsel had said that the agency would file an appeal in the Supreme Court. But with the CBI yet to do so more than two months after the high court verdict, the investigating agency has come under fire from the opposition Congress.

Leader of opposition in the assembly Ramesh Chennithala alleged that it was due to a “secret understanding” between the ruling CPI (M) and BJP. “It is really intriguing the verdict came almost two months back. The CBI is not in a mood to challenge it. It shows there is a secret understanding between the CPI(M) and BJP,” he said.

The case relates to the awarding of a contract to the Canadian power giant SNC Lavalin to renovate three hydel projects in which the state allegedly lost Rs 374 crore. Vijayan was the power minister when the accord was signed in 1996.

While giving a clean chit to the Chief Minister on August 23, the court also came down heavily on the CBI saying the CM had been made a scapegoat by the agency. It said he could be held accountable for loss to the exchequer and there was no evidence to prove that he made financial gains from the deal.

The CBI’s silence for two months only raised more eyebrows.

However, the court had directed three senior officials of the state electricity to face trial. One of the accused, state electricity board chief engineer Kasturi Ranga Iyer, moved the apex court last week with a plea that he should also be discharged on the ground that all accused in the case own collective responsibility. He contended that it was a collective decision and officers cannot be made accountable for a political decision.

The case was handed over to the CBI in 2006 by then CM Ooomen Chandy of the Congress. In 2013 a special court had exonerated Vijayan which the CBI later challenged in the high court. His arch-rival in the party former CM V S Achuthanandan often used this case to embarrass him.

First Published: Nov 05, 2017 17:22 IST