Kerala High court upholds Pinarayi Vijayan's acquittal in SNC-Lavalin case

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The instant case arose out of a revision petition filed by the CBI with the Kerala High Court. "I am happy that truth has won".

The court also criticised the Central Bureau of Investigation for hounding Vijayan as there were other ministers also who had dealt with SNC Lavalin company. It was due to the CAG report that the Kerala High Court had ordered a CBI inquiry against Pinarayi Vijayan and others in January 2007.

But in November 2013, Pinarayi Vijayan and the other accused were discharged from the case.

The CBI says Vijayan, who was the electricity minister from May 1996 to October 1998 before taking up the reins of his party as its powerful secretary, hatched a criminal conspiracy to award the contract.

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 judge noted that it was a Cabinet approved project and "it would be unjust and illegal to pick and chose" the then Electricity Minister Vijayan "and prosecute him for the wrong or illegality committed by the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB)". The 79-year-old lawyer passed away recently following poor health. A Vigilance inquiry could not find anything against him, but once the Left parties repealed support to the United Progressive Alliance I government, it was made a decision to rake up the issue and entrust the case with the CBI. Salve had said in the court that there was nothing illegal in the contract. But the second, third and fourth accused in the case shall face further proceedings over the case. The court observed that there is no prima facie evidence against Pinarayi and he need not have to face any trial. But the CBI was used as a political tool against him to hound him and his party Vijayan claimed.

Following the controversy around the deal, the case was handed over to the CBI by the Oommen Chandy-led UDF government in 2006. This decision was taken after the State Vigilance Department gave a clean chit to Vijayan.

However, opposition Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala said the Lavalin case which was buried appears to have reopened once again through yesterday's judgment.

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