Ex-minister Balakrishna Pillai sent to jail in graft case

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Kochi/Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 18 (PTI) Kerala Congress(B)leader and former minister R Balakrishna Pillai was today sentto central jail in the capital, a week after the Supreme Courtsentenced him to one year imprisonment in a corruption case.

Along with 76-year-old Pillai, a long-time legislator andformer Lok Sabha member, contractor P K Sajeevan was also sentto the jail, following their conviction by the Apex Courtafter a 20-year-old legal battle.

Pillai is the first former state minister to undergo jailterm in a corruption case.

With their options running out, Pillai and Sajeevansurrendered this morning before the special court in Kochi,which tried the case, responding to the court''s orders toeither surrender or face arrest.

Police, however, did not execute the arrest warrantagainst the second accused and former Kerala State ElectricityBoard chairman Ramabhadran Nair (81) at his home inThiruvananthapuram as he was in dementia.

Though a police officer was sent to Nair''s house with thewarrant, he returned without arresting him after taking thedoctor''s statement on his health condition. The report in thisregard will be submitted in court tomorrow.

The court rejected Pillai''s plea for A-class facilitiesin prison, but ordered that he be ensured proper medical aid.

The Supreme Court had sentenced Pillai and two others toone year Rigorous Imprisonment and slapped a fine of Rs 10,000in its February 10 order, reversing the High Court verdictacquitting them.

According to the prosecution, the accused conspired inawarding the contract for construction of tunnel and surgeshaft of the Edmalayar Hydro Electric Project in the 1980s,causing Rs two crore loss to the state exchequer.

The legal battle in the Apex Court against Pillai waswaged by Kerala Chief Minister and CPI-M veteran V SAchuthanandan, seeking reversal of the Kerala High Court orderwhich had quashed the trial court order punishing them.

A politician who has courted controversies all throughhis career, Pillai had stated he would face punishment. Heturned up at the court accompanied by his supporters and son KB Ganesh Kumar, a cine actor-turned-politician and MLA.

He headed the Kerala Congress faction known by his name,which is a partner in the Congress-led UDF.

A founder leader of Kerala Congress, formed in the 1960sby some Congress leaders with the blessings of Nair ServiceSociety and the church, Pillai had served as minister in UDFministries, holding charges of electricity and transport. PTINM APR RA

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