Former Electricity Minister and State secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Pinarayi Vijayan had “with the ulterior motive for personal gain misled the Cabinet,” of which he was a member in the 1996-1998 period, and obtained a Government Order through “fraudulent means” to execute a contract with SNC Lavalin, a Canadian company, to renovate Pallivasal, Sengulam, and Panniyar hydroelectric projects in the State, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) told its special court here on Wednesday.
The move caused huge loss to the public exchequer and undue gain for the company, it said.
Opposing Mr. Vijayan’s plea that he be discharged from the list of accused in the case, the CBI said that the suspect’s mens rea, guilty mind, was “visible” when it scrutinised the minutes of the Cabinet meeting.
The then Finance Minister had said, orally and in writing, that the Union government’s approval and guidelines be followed in the execution of the contract. However, this was not done.
In 1996, Mr. Vijayan visited Canada and held discussions with the company. There was no technical member in his delegation. Mr. Vijayan, who has no technical expertise in the matter, decided the details of the equipment to be procured from India and Canada.
His wanted to give the contract to SNC-Lavalin at the company’s own terms in lieu of a promise by the firm to help the State establish a cancer centre (Malabar Cancer Centre-MCC) at Thalassery in his native district Kannur. SNC-Lavalin wanted to bag the contract at an exorbitant rate and Mr. Vijayan wanted to establish the MCC.
The CBI said Mr. Vijayan had signed the supply contract on a fixed rate basis with SNC-Lavalin, which was not even the original equipment manufacturer, without verifying the “reasonableness of the cost of the equipment.”
It said the conspiracy to show undue favour to SNC-Lavalin was hatched on August 8, 1995, when the first memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed with the firm. G. Karthikeyan was the Electricity Minister then. However, “no evidence was forthcoming to prove any overt acts of Mr. Karthikeyan in signing the MoU and consultancy contract”. Hence, he was not charged “for want of evidence”.
When Mr. Vijayan took over in 1996, he “exploited the opportunity wherein SNC-Lavalin had mentioned about the grant portion” in reciprocation of the award of contract. Mr. Vijayan then hatched the “second level of the conspiracy” to establish the MCC and the consultancy contract signed during Mr. Karthikeyan’s time was converted to supply agreements.