Kerala HC expresses displeasure at CBI probe in SNC Lavalin case

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Kochi, Sep 18 (UNI) The Kerala high court today expressed displeasure at the CBI's investigation into the over Rs 300 crore SNC Lavalin corruption case and directed the agency to produce the entire record relating to its probe in the case by September 23.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice A K Basheer made the verbal observations after perusing the interim report submitted by the CBI and its application seeking six months' more time to complete the investigation into the SNC Lavalin case.

The bench noted that the agency had questioned 24 witnesses after March 18 this year, on which date the high court had directed the CBI to complete its probe into the SNC Lavalin case within six months.

The case relates to alleged losses of over Rs 300 crore suffered by the Kerala State Electricity Board in its award of a contract to Canadian firm SNC Lavalin, to revamp three hydel power plants in the state during the previous tenure of the LDF Government.

The court noted that most of the witnesses questioned by the CBI were local officials and ex-ministers. The agency had not contacted the consulate of Canada regarding the investigation, it observed.

Expressing displeasure at the CBI's investigation, the bench wondered what was the purpose of the court granting CBI investigation in cases when it takes decades to complete them.

''If this is the stand taken by the CBI, I am afraid whom are we going to rely on in this country. Investigations are entrusted to the CBI because of lack of confidence in the local police and if this is the stance taken by the CBI, it is worse,'' the bench said.

The court also questioned whether the CBI was waiting for the elections to come to file the final report.

The bench also observed that it would grant further extension of time to complete the investigation only if it was satisfied after perusing the records that a proper investigation was being conducted.

The court's March 18 deadline to the CBI to complete its investigation within six months ended today.

UNI XR ARC DK1740

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