Lavalin: Pinarayi ordered to appear in court

published on April 10, 2012

A day after scoring a huge victory over his arch enemy VS Achuthanandan by allegedly forcing the party to deny him re-entry into the Politbureau, Kerala CPI(M) secretary Pinarayi Vijayan was on Tuesday ordered by a court in Thiruvananthapuram to appear in person in the SNC Lavalin corruption case in which he was seventh accused.

Achuthanandan was thrown out of the Politbureau in 2009 when he was Kerala chief minister for demanding action against Pinarayi over the Rs 374.5-crore corruption scandal when the CPI(M) had officially decided to fight the case legally and politically to protect the secretary. The scandal had originated when Pinarayi was Kerala Power minister in 1996-1997.

Rejecting his plea to exempt him from appearing in the court in its next sitting on the SNC Lavalin case, the Special CBI Court in Thiruvananthapuram asked him to appear in the court in person on July 10, the day on which it would take up the case again. Pinarayi had not attended the proceedings on Tuesday despite a court directive.

While considering two petitions seeking rejection of the report of re-investigation into the case submitted by the CBI and institution of a court-supervised probe into the corruption scandal, the court criticized Pinarayi saying it was improper to disobey its order to appear in person. The CPI(M) secretary had failed to appear in the court during two earlier sittings also.

Pinarayi’s counsel requested the court to split the case into two in the context of the CBI’s inability to serve the warrants on Canadian utility company SNC Lavalin and its former vice-president Klaus Trendl, ninth and sixth accused respectively, but the court rejected this saying it was impossible to intervene in this as the CBI was continuing with the warrant procedures.

The CBI had stated in its probe report that there were no evidences available to prove that Pinarayi had made financial gains in the deal with the Canadian company. It also said that it had not found any evidence on the role of Congress leader G Karthikeyan, Pinarayi’s predecessor in the Power Ministry and presently Speaker of the Assembly, in the scam.

The case pertains to a Rs 374.5-crore supply contract signed between the KSEB and SNC Lavalin in 1997 for the renovation of Panniyar, Chenkulam and Pallivasal hydro-electric power stations. A CAG report presented to the Kerala Assembly in February, 2006 had said that the State exchequer had effectively lost the entire contract amount through the controversial deal.

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