Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy has described Wednesday's Supreme Court order on the SNC-Lavalin case as a slap to the legal battle launched by Communist Party of India (Marxist) State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan ‘‘with the help of the State government'' against the permission given by the Governor to prosecute him in the case.

In a statement here on Wednesday, Mr. Chandy said the court order showed that the government's advice to the Governor not to give permission for prosecuting Mr. Vijayan and the hartal organised by the CPI(M) against the Governor's decision were wrong. The Governor's decision was found to be lawful and in accordance with the Constitution.

He said that Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan's image as a crusader against corruption stood cracked. It was the Achuthanandan government which advised the Governor against giving permission for prosecuting Mr. Vijayan in the Lavalin case. It was at the government's expense, running into lakhs of rupees, that Harish Salve argued in the Supreme Court against the Governor's decision.

He asked the CPI(M) to apologise to the people for disrupting normal life by organising bandhs and hartals against the Governor's decision and stop alleging that the case was politically motivated.

It was a Comptroller and Auditor General of India report which first drew attention to the huge loss caused by the Lavalin deal. An Assembly committee consisting of among others Kodiyeri Balakrishnan after discussions on the report recommended a Vigilance probe into it. It had found eight officials guilty. It was the United Democratic Front government which referred the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on the basis of demands for further investigation and the complaint that the Vigilance inquiry had excluded politicians and had made the officials scapegoats.

The Left Democratic Front (LDF) government which succeeded it did not hand over the file concerned to the CBI. The Cabinet decided against referring the case to the CBI. When a public interest litigation came up against it in the High Court, the government brought prominent lawyers in the country to argue its case. In spite of all these, the High Court referred the case to the CBI. That was the first blow to the LDF government. The Supreme Court ruling was the second blow, he added.

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