Friday, May 8, 2009

SNC Lavalin graft case: Vijayan gets clean chit

6 May 2009, ANI

KOCHI: CPM state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan has been given a clean chit in connection with the SNC Lavalin graft case. ( Watch )

Kerala Advocate General C P Sudhakara Prasad said Vijayan need not to be prosecuted in the case relating to renovation and modernisation of three hydel projects in the state in late 1990s.

Vijayan, who had been under the scanner in the case, was the state’s electricity minister when the SNC Lavalin scam broke out 12 years ago.

SNC Lavalin power scandal is one of the biggest financial scams to rock Kerala.

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India report indicted a CPM-led government of the mid-1990s for a Rs 374.50 crore loss to the exchequer.

Vijayan figured as the ninth accused in a chargesheet filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Later, the CBI moved to seek the government's consent to prosecute him.

Claus Trendl, Senior Vice President of the Canadian firm SNC Lavalin, has been arraigned as the eleventh accused and A Francis, former Joint Secretary (Power) as the tenth accused. There are totally eleven accused in the case.

Among the other accused are: K Mohanachandran, Former Principal Secretary (Power) and former Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) Chairman, who is the first accused, G Rajashekharan Nair, former Member (Accounts) (second accused) and P A Sidharthan Menon, former KSEB Chairman.

Three hydel power stations had to be upgraded at Pallivasal, Sengulam and Panniar. Tenders were invited and was finalised to an Indian consortium and a Canadian MNC.

The foreign company quoted Rs 2.42 crore per MW, the Indian consortium - BHEL and LandT - sought Rs 1.25 per MW. The contract went to the higher bidder, contrary to normal practice.

Pinarayi saved

Youth Congress activists jumping over the barricades set up by the police during a protest march to the Advocate-General’s office in Kochi on WednesdaExpress News ServiceFirst Published : 07 May 2009 03:00:00 AM ISTLast Updated : THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Once again making it clear that the CPM and its state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan are not ready to undergo any kind of judicial scrutiny in the SNCLavalin case, the CPM-led LDF Government decided not to give sanction to prosecute Pinarayi Vijayan, the ninth accused in the case.

The Cabinet meet, presided over by Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan, decided on Wednesday to accept the legal advice of Advocate-General C P Sudhakara Prasad and convey the same to the Governor. With this move, the Governor’s office has once again become the hub of activities.

Top sources hinted that the Governor is likely to accept the recommendation of the Cabinet and inform the CBI about his decision denying permission to prosecute Pinarayi.

The CBI had sought the permission of Governor R S Gavai to prosecute Pinarayi Vijayan on January 17. The Governor sought the views of the Cabinet on February 2 on CBI’s request.

While disposing of a public interest litigation, the Kerala High Court had asked the government to take a decision on the prosecution of Vijayan before May 11. When the Cabinet took up the AG’s legal opinion for discussion on Wednesday, all ministers were of the opinion that it should be accepted.

Though VS tried to raise some feeble objections, other ministers dubbed such doubts as irrelevant.

Later, the Cabinet unanimously decided to accept the AG’s advice. ‘‘The Cabinet, as requested by the Governor, will convey to him its opinion on the sanction for prosecution related to the SNC-Lavalin case,’’ VS said at the post-Cabinet briefing. He did not say whether the opinion was based on the AG’s advice or on the Cabinet’s independent assessment. ‘‘As of now, I have no intention to share the details with the media,’’ he said.

It may be recalled that the CPM had frantically tried to oppose the transfer of the case to the CBI in 2006. As per the direction of the party, the LDF Government hired the services of advocates in the Supreme Court and argued in the HC that there was no need to transfer the case from Vigilance to the CBI. But the HC dispelled that argument and handed over the probe to the CBI. With the denial of sanction to prosecute Pinarayi, it seems the other accused have found a safe passage out of the case.

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