Lavalin case: LDF Govt acted with bias, says CBI

via VR Jayaraj | Kochi - Daily Pioneer published on November 10, 2010

The CBI on Wednesday accused Kerala’s LDF Government of acting with bias in its decision not to permit the prosecution of State CPI(M) secretary and former power minister Pinarayi Vijayan and two former government officials, accused in the sensational Rs 374.5-crore SNC Lavalin corruption case.

The investigating agency made the submission in its affidavit filed in the Special CBI court, Kochi in response to a petition filed by eighth accused A Francis, former Joint Secretary, Power, seeking cancellation of proceedings against him as the Cabinet had not cleared his prosecution.

According to the CBI, the Cabinet had acted with partisan attitude because “the most powerful party secretary” (Pinarayi Vijayan) was named as accused in the case. The content of Francis’s petition could have been automatically applicable in the case of Pinarayi, seventh accused, and first accused K Mohanachandran, former KSEB chairman, also.

The CBI said that the prosecution of Pinarayi and the former officials was made possible because of the just and timely decision taken by Governor RS Gavai who cleared their prosecution using his discretion in the name of the “State”.

The Government had arrived at the biased decision on the basis factually incorrect matters, the agency said, adding that it would have been a huge shame to democracy and the Constitution if the Governor had not permitted their prosecution.

The accused had indulged in criminal conspiracy for amassing wealth for personal purpose and this could in no way be considered as part of their official obligations, the agency said. It appealed to the court to dismiss Francis’s petition on the basis of these arguments.

The Special CBI Court, in the meantime, extended the non-bailable warrant against sixth accused Klaus Trendl, former senior vice-president of SNC Lavalin, after the agency informed that the warrant had not been executed as the person’s whereabouts were unknown.

The agency also told the court that steps had already been initiated for extraditing Trendl to India. A request in this regard would be made to the Ministry of External Affairs soon, it said. The Canadian company had informed the agency that he was not its employee anymore. The court would consider the case again on February 11.

Meanwhile, the CBI removed Ashok Kumar, official in the rank of DySP, from the charge of investigations into the economic offences in the SNC Lavalin affair, generating apprehensions about a possible derailment of the case. DySP Hari Kumar was given the charge of the investigations.

Ashok Kumar was transferred from the Crimes unit of the agency in Chennai to its Special unit there itself. Though there was no formal explanation from the CBI for the transfer, the agency’s position was that this was only a routine matter.

The sensational case pertains to the alleged corruption behind an agreement signed between the Canadian company and the KSEB for the repair and renovation of the Panniyar, Chenkulam, and Pallivasal hydel stations in Kerala. The Rs 374.5-crore deal was signed when Pinarayi Vijayan was State power minister in 1997.

According to a CAG report, tabled in the Kerala Assembly in February, 2006, the deal had caused a loss of at least Rs 198 crore to the Exchequer. The CAG had also found that the renovation work had not brought the desired result as power generation had not improved and therefore the entire contract amount could be considered as lost.

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