SNC-Lavalin case: SC agrees to examine Pinarayi Vijayan's aquittal, issues notice

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The Supreme Court on Thursday issued a notice to Pinarayi Vijayan in the SNC-Lavalin corruption case based on the CBI appeal against the discharge of Kerala Chief Minister and two others from all charges.

The CBI had approached the apex court after the Kerala High Court upheld Pinarayi Vijayan's acquittal in the controversial SNC-Lavalin case.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan

The matter is related to late 1990s when Vijayan was Power Minister in Kerala.

A Bench of Justices N.V. Ramana and Abdul Nazeer issued notice on the CBI appeal against the discharge of Mr Vijayan, K. Mohanachandran, former principal secretary, Department of Power; and A. Francis, then joint secretary in the same department said reports.

In August, Justice Ubaid bench of the Kerala High Court held that Vijayan was being made a scapegoat in the case and upheld the lower court order acquitting him of all charges. Vijayan along with other accused was acquitted by the Thiruvananthapuram special court earlier. The CBI had filed charges of criminal conspiracy against Pinarayi Vijayan for influencing the Rs 374 crore deal.

The case pertains to alleged irregularities in a project dating back to 1995 when the Kerala government signed a memorandum of understanding with Canadian company SNC-Lavalin for the renovation and modernization of the Pallivasal, Sengulam, and Panniar hydroelectric projects. The total deal was worth Rs 374 crore and as per the contract sanctioned by the state cabinet, the company was supposed to provide a grant of Rs 98.30 crore to the Malabar Cancer Institute. The hospital, however, received an amount of Rs 8.98 crore.

The CAG reported a largescale loss to the exchequer in the deal due to technical defects in the equipment renovated. The CAG also said that the very objective of improvement in power generation could not be achieved since there was no improvement in the efficiency of the machines. In 2007 the Kerala High Court ordered a CBI inquiry into the case.

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