Corrupted Vijayan to appear in Court today

published on December 29, 2009

Lavalin case: Pinarayi may appear in court today

PNS | Kochi

Pinarayi Vijayan, CPI(M)’s Kerala secretary, is likely to appear in the Special CBI Court in Kochi on Wednesday when it takes up the Rs 374.5-crore SNC Lavalin corruption case. Vijayan, the first-ever Politburo member of the CPI(M), is seventh accused in the case in which there are a total of nine accused. He had stayed away from the court on health grounds on September 24 when it first considered the case.

Reports said that Vijayan, former power minister during whose tenure the KSEB had signed a controversial contract with Canadian company SNC Lavalin, would reach the court on Wednesday to take bail, accompanied by party leaders and workers in a demonstration. It is said that instruction had already been given to the Ernakulam district secretariat of the party in this connection. However, the CPI(M) said that the party had not even thought of holding a demonstration or protest.

The CPI(M) had formally decided to defend Vijayan “politically and legally” as he had allegedly been implicated falsely in the case by the CBI under pressure from the Congress which wanted to settle political scores. Vijayan had filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the decision of Kerala Governor RS Gawai to permit his prosecution in the case despite a State Cabinet recommendation not to do this.

The Special CBI Court is scheduled to take up the SNC Lavalin case at 11.00 am. Second accused KG Rajasekharan Nair, a former member of the Kerala State Electricity Board who too had not failed to turn up at the court on September 24, is likely to appear on Wednesday. Nair, who had settled down in Delhi, had applied for a postponement through his lawyer.

However, there was no information about the representative of SNC Lavalin, ninth accused and Klaus Trindl, its former senior vice-president, who was sixth accused in the case. The court had asked the absentees to appear in person before it on December 30.

The CBI is expected to submit to the court the report on investigation into the alleged role of former power minister G Karthikeyan. The CBI had stated in its probe report to the court that the foundation for corruption in the deal was set during Karthikeyan’s tenure as minister and had questioned him several times. The CPI(M) had demanded inclusion of Karthikeyan in the case as an accused.

The five accused who had appeared in the Special CBI Court on September 24 were first accused K Mohanachandran, former principal secretary, Power, and former KSEB chairman, third accused R Sivadasan, former EB chairman, fourth accused M Kasthuri Ranga Iyer, former EB chief engineer, fifth accused PA Siddhartha Menon, former EB chairman and eighth accused A Francis, former joint secretary, Power.

Senior lawyer MK Damodaran, who had appeared for Pinarayi, had submitted a separate petition in the court stating that Defence Minister AK Antony should be questioned in the case. The petition said that Antony should have clear knowledge of the deals with Canadian company SNC Lavalin as he was the chief minister of Kerala when the memorandum of understanding between the Canadian company and the KSEB was signed.

The KSEB-SNC Lavalin deal became a subject of controversy after the Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) picked holes in the act of the board for having chosen the three hydroelectric projects for renovation and the award of the related contract to SNC Lavalin.

In its report for the year ended March 31, 2005, tabled in the State Assembly on February 13, 2006, the CAG had singled out “deviations from prescribed procedures” in the selection of the Pallivasal, Chenkulam and Panniyar projects for renovation leading to heavy losses for the State exchequer.

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