21 April 2009
New Delhi: The Supreme Court Monday decided it will hear in May a lawsuit that alleges delay in sanction by the Kerala government to prosecute former state power minister and Communist Party of India-Marxist state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan in a corruption case.
The apex court had initially declined to hear the public interest lawsuit and dismissed it. But on Monday, a bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice P. Sathasivam decided to hear it in May after counsel for K.B. Suresh, who brought the PIL, insisted it has merit.
Kerala-based scribe T.P. Nandkumar has approached the apex court against a Kerala High Court order of Feb 12, 2009, that dismissed his contention that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was delaying the trial of Pinarayi Vijayan and two state bureaucrats on the pretext that the government has not given permission to prosecute them.
The other two accused in the case, besides Vijayan, are former power secretary K. Mohana Chandran and former joint secretary (power) A Francis.
Nandkmar had contended before the high court that the CBI, which probed the graft case, did not need any government approval to prosecute them as they were not entitled to legal protection from trial for corrupt acts.
Vjayan faced a CBI probe for his alleged role in awarding a contract in 1997 for renovation and modernisation of two hydro-power plants in the state to Canadian firm SNC Lavalin without any competitive bidding.
The government's official auditor later found that the award of the contract by the Kerala State Electricity Board to the Canadian firm at the behest of the minister had resulted in a loss of Rs.3.5 billion to the state exchequer.
The contract had allegedly been given to the Canadian firm ignoring a Bharat Heavy Electrical Limited report, which had said that the renovation of three power plants could have been achieved at a cost of less than Rs.1 billion.
Nandkumar had approached the high court alleging that the state government was not keen to prosecute Vijayan and two bureaucrats though a corruption case against them was lodged in February 2005.
He also contended that that there has been no progress in the investigation.
But the high court disposed of scribe's plea after the state government said that the CBI has approached it for approval for trial of the former minister and the bureaucrats, and that it was examining the plea.